firing squad


: a detachment detailed to fire volleys over the grave of one buried with military honors
: a detachment detailed to carry out a sentence of death by shooting

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web As judges decide if the electric chair or a firing squad are legal execution methods in South Carolina, lawmakers are trying to figure out how 14 other states have managed to get the drugs for lethal injections. Jeffrey Collins, ajc, 19 Jan. 2023 State lawmakers instead authorized them to use either the electric chair or the firing squad to carry out the sentences, prompting a lawsuit by death-row prisoners. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 22 Dec. 2022 In one disturbing clip, starving Jews in a long line are shown looking ahead to see their queue moving toward a firing squad. Matthew Gilbert,, 17 Nov. 2022 Arizona prosecutors also said nitrogen gas remains untested in executions and that Atwood's attorneys hadn't established that nitrogen gas or a firing squad would reduce the risk of severe pain. Jacques Billeaud, The Arizona Republic, 4 June 2022 By law, Moore will be asked to choose his method of execution – either the electric chair or firing squad – 2 weeks before execution day, according to the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC). Bradford Betz, Fox News, 8 Apr. 2022 Twenty-six of the 32 Oklahoma death row inmates who were on the original challenge provided the court with an alternative method of execution, including the use of different drug combinations or firing squad. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 29 Oct. 2021 Among the lawmakers who proposed the firing squad alternative was Mr. Harpootlian. Jacey Fortin, New York Times, 4 Mar. 2023 Welcome to the circular firing squad that is the progressive environmentalist movement. Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, 8 Nov. 2010 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'firing squad.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of firing squad was in 1864

Dictionary Entries Near firing squad

Cite this Entry

“Firing squad.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition

firing squad

fir·​ing squad
: a military unit assigned to fire shots over the grave of one buried with military honors
: a military unit assigned to carry out a sentence of death by shooting

More from Merriam-Webster on firing squad

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