\ ˈgən How to pronounce gun (audio) \

Definition of gun

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a piece of ordnance usually with high muzzle velocity and comparatively flat trajectory
b : a portable firearm (such as a rifle or handgun)
c : a device that throws a projectile
2a : a discharge of a gun especially as a salute or signal
b : a signal marking a beginning or ending
3a : hunter
b : gunman
4 : something suggesting a gun in shape or function
5 : throttle
6 slang : a person's arm specifically : an arm that has well-defined muscles usually plural Conor was spotted rowing away from The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park Saturday with his girlfriend, Dee Devlin, and their cute son, Conor Jr. The famous fighter showed off his guns while handling the oars for his crew. The Heisman Trophy-winning and former NFL quarterback worked the stage the way he probably jabs through the weight room—whilst checking out his guns in the mirror … . — Tory Barron
under the gun
: under pressure or attack


gunned; gunning

Definition of gun (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to fire on
b : shoot gunned down by a hit man
2a : to open up the throttle of so as to increase speed gun the engine
b : fire sense 3b gunned the ball to first base

intransitive verb

: to hunt with a gun
gun for
: to aim at or go after with determination or effort

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Other Words from gun


gunned \ ˈgənd How to pronounce gunned (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for gun

Synonyms: Noun

arm, firearm, heat [slang], piece, small arm

Synonyms: Verb

drill, plug, pop, shoot

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Did You Know?

A ballista (a large missile-thrower in the form of a crossbow) that defended Windsor Castle in the 14th century was named in Latin Domina Gunilda, or “Lady Gunilda.” Gunilda is an Old Norse name and is a compound of gunnr and hildr, both words meaning “battle.” The English may have learned the name from early Norsemen who knew its etymological significance, or its use by the English may have been a coincidence. However, the use of this name for the Windsor ballista was not an isolated incident. Gonnylyde was the name of a cannon in a 14th century song. Our word gun, which also traces back to the 14th century, is probably a shortening of Gunilda.

Examples of gun in a Sentence


a gun battle between gang members and the police She claimed that the gun went off accidentally.


She let the car coast down the hill, then gunned it. The shortstop gunned the ball to first base.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In one flash, Kelly Ripa (playing Hiram Lodge's new mistress), pulls a gun on Cole Sprouse's Jughead. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "Watch Veronica and Reggie Embrace in New "Riverdale" Season 3 Part 2 Trailer," 9 Jan. 2019 The president’s first reaction was to state that stricter gun laws would have no effect on these mass murders. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “There’s No Proof of Anything”," 28 Oct. 2018 Jackson’s brother got out of the Jeep to confront Hogan and Hogan pulled a gun and started firing, the charges say. Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times, "Seattle man who claimed self-defense charged in 3-year-old homicide," 25 Oct. 2018 Gabrielle: Fighting for safer gun laws can be hard. Olivia Fleming, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gabrielle Giffords and Edna Chavez Refuse to Be Silenced on Gun Control," 8 Oct. 2018 The great news here for would-be weapon owners is that America basically has no other gun laws: The move comes amid a rush by states to block these instructions from being posted. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Twitter’s case for keeping Alex Jones is falling apart," 10 Aug. 2018 An Overland Park man allegedly pulled a gun from his waistband and fired a shot while Lenexa police were trying to arrest him. Tony Rizzo, kansascity, "Man charged with firing gun while fighting with Lenexa police," 13 July 2018 Deputies say Brown pulled out a gun and fired a shot. Michael Williams,, "Lake Mary man was killed by a stray bullet — all because of a fight he had no part in," 12 July 2018 Police are searching for a suspect, who pulled a gun during the fight and shot the man. Mike Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man dies after being shot during a fight Thursday morning," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Last year, seven its staff in the country were killed, including a Spanish physiotherapist gunned down by one of her own patients inside the ICRC orthopedic center in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Habib Khan Totakhil And Craig Nelson, WSJ, "Afghanistan Violence Continues as Gunmen Attack Intelligence Facility," 16 Aug. 2018 Jennye Lopez, who came to the United States last summer after her brother was gunned down by gang members in El Salvador, spent six months inside the facility before she was released. Joshua Emerson Smith,, "Hundreds protest outside at Otay Mesa Detention Center calling for release of asylum seekers," 10 June 2018 Authorities on Saturday released a sketch of the suspect gunned down a prominent cardiologist, once known to have treated former President George H.W. Bush., while the doctor was riding his bicycle through Texas Medical Center. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Sketch released of suspect sought in murder of George H.W. Bush's former doctor," 22 July 2018 Such is the case with the still-officially-unsolved deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., Tupac and Biggie, gunned down six months apart two decades ago, a cruel extermination of hip-hop’s elite. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "Review: Who Killed Biggie and Tupac? ‘Unsolved’ Might Know," 26 Feb. 2018 And in the past week, at least four civilians have been killed, including Shujaat Bukhari, the editor in chief of Rising Kashmir, an English-language daily, who was gunned down by assailants outside his office. New York Times, "Kashmir Government in Turmoil as Coalition Breaks Down," 19 June 2018 Swartz was on trial for the killing of a Mexican teenager who was gunned down in a hail of 16 bullets in Nogales, Mexico. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, "Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz found not guilty in cross-border slaying of Mexican teen," 23 Apr. 2018 Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were gunned down in their car in Rio on March 14 after Franco spoke at a meeting on empowering black women. Sergio Ramalho, The Seattle Times, "Sister of slain Brazilian councilwoman calls for justice," 14 Jan. 2019 Debra Clayton was gunned down Jan. 9, 2017 outside a Wal-Mart while attempting to capture Loyd. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Accused Florida cop killer says in jailhouse videos he wanted baby 'to come out with my traits'," 19 Sep. 2018

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

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First Known Use of gun


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1622, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for gun


Middle English gonne, gunne

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Learn More about gun

Dictionary Entries near gun

gum up the works







Statistics for gun

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gun

The first known use of gun was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for gun



English Language Learners Definition of gun

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a weapon that shoots bullets or shells
: a tool or device that looks like a gun



English Language Learners Definition of gun (Entry 2 of 2)

US : to cause (a car or a car's engine) to go very fast by pressing the accelerator
US : to throw (something) very hard


\ ˈgən How to pronounce gun (audio) \

Kids Definition of gun

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a weapon that fires bullets or shells
2 : cannon
3 : something like a gun in shape or function a glue gun
4 : a discharge of a gun The runners waited for the gun.


gunned; gunning

Kids Definition of gun (Entry 2 of 2)

: to open the throttle of quickly so as to increase speed gun the engine

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More from Merriam-Webster on gun

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gun

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gun

Spanish Central: Translation of gun

Nglish: Translation of gun for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gun for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about gun

Comments on gun

What made you want to look up gun? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a shady place in a garden or forest

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