\ˈgən \

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 \ adjective

Synonyms for gun

Synonyms: Noun

arm, firearm, piece, small arm

Synonyms: Verb

drill, 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

The governor signed the measure two days after marchers nationally — including thousands in Madison and Milwaukee — demonstrated to demand gun control, but Walker argued that gun violence wasn't the right focus. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Nearly $45 million in Wisconsin school safety grants is left over as Brad Schimel seeks new ways to spend," 6 July 2018 Police say that upon arrival, one of the officers pointed a gun at the group of boys. Jewel Wicker, Teen Vogue, "Viral Video Shows Black Boys Detained at a Park in Minnesota After 911 Caller Claimed They Had Weapons," 13 July 2018 The bar-owner shot Monday afternoon after pointing a gun at SWAT officers during a standoff is facing a charge of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, an arrest affidavit said. David Harris,, "'I do not negotiate whatsoever,' armed pub owner said, before being shot by SWAT officer: report," 10 July 2018 Because Alex was firing his gun about once every half second. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Louie Swisher and his mom do a VR experience and take listener questions," 10 July 2018 An El Paso cop pointed his gun at a group of children. Fernando Ramirez, Houston Chronicle, "El Paso cop pulls gun on group of children, arrests cameraman," 10 July 2018 In the days after that first test-firing, his gun was downloaded more than 100,000 times. Adam Fisher, WIRED, "A Landmark Legal Shift Opens Pandora’s Box for DIY Guns," 10 July 2018 Seeing the dispute, the 18-year-old's uncle got out of his car and pointed a gun at the van full of teenagers. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Teens held scissors to Glendale man's neck, threw him out of moving car during robbery, police say," 9 July 2018 There's good reason to believe China is exaggerating what its gun can do. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "China Claims to Have a Laser Assault Rifle That Can Set Clothes on Fire," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Back for a third year this season is Cal Conley, who played second base to Luke Waddell's shortstop, but now is gunning runners Jeter-like from the hole. Scott Springer,, "Locals hope for another Connie Mack World Series title for Midland Redskins," 13 June 2018 Two years ago, a lone shooter who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State gunned down 49 people at Pulse nightclub, an LGBTQ hotspot in Orlando. Cristóbal Reyes, miamiherald, "The Pulse shooting, two years later: Survivors and families can't forget," 12 June 2018 But, like YouTube, Facebook is mainly gunning for Twitch’s live audience. Nick Statt, The Verge, " is Facebook’s game streaming hub for stealing Fortnite streamers away from Twitch," 7 June 2018 The change aims to fix a system whose weaknesses were exposed by the case of a Navy contractor who gunned down a dozen people at Washington’s Navy Yard in 2013. Washington Post, "Pentagon to take over security clearance checks," 4 June 2018 The change aims to fix a system whose weaknesses were exposed by the case of a Navy contractor who gunned down a dozen people at Washington's Navy Yard in 2013. Lolita C. Baldor, Fox News, "Pentagon to take over security clearance checks," 2 June 2018 However, Tabitha says nothing about the show or who's playing, and [yada yada yada plot points] the pair form the nucleus of their own band, one that's gunning to make a name for itself with new gal Julie front and center. Will Nevin,, "TBT #38: Next Gen mirror mini wraps, new Judge Dredd drops and more in new comics," 30 May 2018 The newspaper clipping about her husband, gunned down by gangs in Honduras. Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, "‘If we’re all together, I can handle it’," 9 July 2018 Citizens are being indiscriminately gunned down by Ortega police and trained paramilitaries. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Russia in Central America, Again," 8 July 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

9 Oct 2018

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)

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

: to throw (something) very hard


\ˈgən \

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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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).


lying above or upon

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