\ 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

Lawmakers disagree on much of what's been proposed to stem gun violence in America. Emily Tillett, CBS News, "Author of early "red flag" law says it has "stood the test of time"," 17 Sep. 2019 Her website lists specific policies for 43 topics: gun violence, Social Security, the Electoral College and even family farmers. Washington Post, "Warren has her own plan for everything - except this," 14 Sep. 2019 An assault weapons ban, along with buy-back and licensing programs could lower gun violence in America. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Why are weapons of war available to civilians?," 14 Sep. 2019 In the wake of the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, the candidate has taken strong positions on gun violence, including mandatory buybacks for assault style weapons. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Second Tier in Top Form at Democratic Debate," 13 Sep. 2019 Michael Luo observed that there was one issue around which the ten candidates appeared to coalesce: the urgent need for bolder ideas to curb gun violence. The New Yorker, "The New Yorker’s Coverage of the September Democratic Debate," 13 Sep. 2019 Pepped up by the attention his campaigning against gun violence has received following a slaughter in his hometown of El Paso last month, Mr O’Rourke was on fluent form. Lexington | Washington, The Economist, "The third Democratic primary debate thins the field," 13 Sep. 2019 He's been working to reduce gun violence in Avondale and across the city for more than 30 years. Kevin Grasha,, "Chief Isaac: Man with gun shot by Cincinnati police in Avondale," 11 Sep. 2019 Johnson has lost several close friends to gun violence, including classmate and track and field teammate Daja Brookshire. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans rookie Lonnie Johnson can't wait to show what he can do," 6 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And coach Matt Nagy, attached to the hip of an official on the Bears sideline, machine-gunned his timeout signal with a fraction of a second to spare. Dan Wiederer,, "Mile-High magic: A fourth-and-15 dart from Mitch Trubisky and a clutch kick from Eddy Pineiro give the Bears a last-second miracle," 15 Sep. 2019 Three hours later, Andrea Parra got a call from one of her son’s friends saying that someone gunned down her 30-year-old son the middle of the day on the side of a busy street in Cleveland’s Stockyards neighborhood. Adam Ferrise,, "Man killed in daytime Cleveland slaying linked to Mayor Frank Jackson’s grandson was father, just got new job," 14 Sep. 2019 For example, police say the shooter suspected of killing 22 people at an El Paso Walmart confessed to targeting people of Mexican descent and is believed to have written an anti-Hispanic rant before gunning down mostly Latino shoppers. Amanda Seitz, Fortune, "False Claims Blur Line Between Mass Shootings, 2020 Politics," 5 Sep. 2019 Who, then, would gun-rights supporters murder in response? Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Conservatives: We’ll Spill Blood to Keep Our Guns," 5 Sep. 2019 For three and a half years, barber Lamar Slaughter took care of Nicholas Nelson, who along with his younger sister, Ashlynn, was found gunned down inside a northeastside apartment Aug. 23. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "Sen. Jim Merritt attacks Mayor Joe Hogsett's 'deafening' silence on racial disparities in homicides," 4 Sep. 2019 The veteran proved he’s still got plenty left in the arm by gunning out Erik Gonzalez at second base as the Pirate tried to stretch a single into a double. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Pirates sweep Rockies as Jeff Hoffman’s strong start is wasted, Colorado falls to season-worst 20 games below .500," 1 Sep. 2019 Kurt Mitchell, a fisherman believed to be a member of the King Street gang, was gunned down at a party — a reprisal for an earlier homicide against the Gaza gang, the authorities believe. Azam Ahmed, New York Times, "One Handgun, 9 Murders: How American Firearms Cause Carnage Abroad," 25 Aug. 2019 The suspect also is believed to have written an anti-Hispanic rant before gunning down mostly Latino Walmart shoppers with an AK-47-style rifle. Anita Snow, Twin Cities, "Mass shootings have Latinos worried about being targets," 11 Aug. 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near gun

gum up the works







Statistics for gun

Last Updated

9 Oct 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

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a bell tower

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