blun·​der·​buss ˈblən-dər-ˌbəs How to pronounce blunderbuss (audio)
: a muzzle-loading firearm with a short barrel and flaring muzzle to facilitate loading
: a blundering person

Illustration of blunderbuss

Illustration of blunderbuss
  • blunderbuss 1

Examples of blunderbuss in a Sentence

leave it to that blunderbuss to bungle a job that a child could do
Recent Examples on the Web The State Department, in its blunderbuss way, wanted to open up a kind of détente with the citizens of Communist Eastern Europe. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 27 Mar. 2023 As a result, all polls (even those with glittering brand names) should be regarded as closer to a blunderbuss than a sharpshooter’s rifle. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 25 Oct. 2022 The Agojie’s divisions consisted of five branches: blunderbuss or artillery women, elephant hunters, musketeers, razor women, and archers. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Sep. 2022 Cover Stories reporter Patrick O’Driscoll once tried to sell an idea on bear hunting by bursting into a meeting in a bear suit while a reporter with a toy blunderbuss chased him around the conference table. USA Today, 14 Sep. 2022 Adding a novel tariff blunderbuss is not likely to make the situation better. Timothy Fitzgerald, National Review, 22 Apr. 2021 This would turn antitrust law into a blunderbuss aimed by failing competitors against companies that do a better job of serving consumers. Robert H. Bork, National Review, 11 June 2021 Most of the fun lies in appreciating the blunderbuss incompetence of the team, whose errors result in innocent people’s heads getting sliced in two or their viscera getting exploded all over the scenery. Kyle Smith, National Review, 4 Aug. 2021 Handicapping off-year congressional elections nearly 400 days in advance has proven about as accurate as an eighteenth-century blunderbuss. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 22 Oct. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'blunderbuss.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


by folk etymology from obsolete Dutch donderbus, from Dutch donder thunder + obsolete Dutch bus gun

First Known Use

1654, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of blunderbuss was in 1654

Dictionary Entries Near blunderbuss

Cite this Entry

“Blunderbuss.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


blun·​der·​buss ˈblən-dər-ˌbəs How to pronounce blunderbuss (audio)
: a muzzle-loader with a short barrel and cone-shaped muzzle to make loading easier

derived from an obsolete Dutch word donderbus, literally, "thundergun"

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