\ 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, 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

According to court documents, Brown told investigators that after taking her to his home, Allen showed her his guns. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "Cyntoia Brown Is Facing 51 Years in Prison, So People Are Pressing Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to Grant Her Clemency," 12 Dec. 2018 There are cringeworthy moments, and not just that famous footage from her 1972 trip to North Vietnam, of Fonda paling around with the enemy troops and laughing her way through a photo op astride one of their anti-aircraft guns. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "In A New HBO Documentary, A Tale of Five Jane Fondas," 21 Sep. 2018 Amazingly, the torpedoes and guns were actually K-2’s secondary armament. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The USSR Planned a Super Sub That Launched Rockets and Delivered Tanks," 27 Dec. 2018 These moves have, of course, affected the company’s bottom line, and major gun companies now refuse to do business with Dick’s. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "A breakdown of this year’s brand winners and losers.," 27 Dec. 2018 The game got its own Nerf gun licensing deal, while Ninja appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and announced a special New Year’s Eve live stream from Times Square. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "The year in Fortnite," 18 Dec. 2018 The Jane Club hosted Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, for an evening focusing on gun sense in America. Prue Lewington, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Jane Club Is the Ultimate Work Space for Moms," 14 Dec. 2018 Attach a bit of yarn with a hot glue gun for easy hanging (perhaps as ornaments on the Halloween tree!), or add a magnet for fun fridge decor. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Turn Dollar-Store Tea Lights Into the Cutest Pumpkins for Halloween," 24 Sep. 2018 In 2018, some major walkouts took place to confront gun violence. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "5 Protest Tactics We Loved in 2018," 29 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

As Klein argued on Friday, the GOP’s continued assault on the Affordable Care Act is actually a strong argument for Democrats gunning to implement some version of Medicaid-for-all. Rachel Withers, Vox, "Trump’s response to the Obamacare ruling reveals his bind on healthcare," 15 Dec. 2018 The short-term solution appears to be air power, with Navy and U.S. Air Force drills focused on gunning down small vessels from warplane cannons and helicopter rocket pods. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Iran Just Claimed Control Over the Persian Gulf. Here’s How They’d Defend It.," 27 Aug. 2018 And with the Democrats gunning to retake the House of Representatives in November, both parties have weaponised the issue. The Economist, "The case against impeachment," 12 July 2018 McCellan also confessed to gunning down two people — one in August 2015 and another just two months later. Lauren Lumpkin,, "Baltimore gang member pleads guilty to drug charges," 12 July 2018 Luis Martin Pinales-Perez, 31, of Boston, was fatally shot on Crawford Street in Roxbury on July 3, and Christian Rivera, 29, of Dorchester, was gunned down Saturday afternoon on Homestead Street in Roxbury, police said. Jerome Campbell,, "Boston police arrest suspect in slaying of man shot on Dorchester street," 10 July 2018 Thomas Smith’s family was still grappling with his recent colon cancer diagnosis when the father of two was gunned down late Sunday, feet from his sister’s Love Lane home. Nicholas Rondinone,, "Father Of Two Suffering From Cancer Killed In Hartford's North End," 9 July 2018 Mothers don’t feel safe when their babies are being shot off their front porches, little kids gunned down at parks. John Kass,, "Father Mike's shutdown of Dan Ryan aimed directly at Mayor Emanuel," 5 July 2018 In the attack, police said Ramos barricaded the rear exit of the office to prevent anyone from escaping, gunning down one victim trying to slip out the back. CBS News, "People honor five slain in newsroom attack in strikingly silent march," 30 June 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

16 Jan 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)

: 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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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).


marked by shyness and lack of polish

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