\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

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to supporting survivors of gun violence. Loren Kleinman And Amye Archer, Marie Claire, "I’m a Survivor of Sandy Hook. This Is What The Past Six Years Have Been Like.," 14 Dec. 2018 Meghan responded by saying that guns were mentioned a few days ago and there was a problem then too. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'The View' Stars Meghan McCain and Whoopi Goldberg Got Into a Cringe-Worthy Argument," 4 Dec. 2018 Redbook: How is gun violence a matter of public health? Kaitlin Menza, Redbook, "Everything You Need to Know Before Voting in the Midterm Elections," 10 Oct. 2018 His hypothesis is that moving out of the city is based on a number of factors: employment, housing, education, and concerns about safety and gun violence are the ones that leap out at him. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How a ‘reverse Great Migration’ is reshaping U.S. cities," 31 July 2018 The Steele dossier was supposed to be the smoking gun, but that turned out to be a fraud. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Michael Cohen Show," 29 Nov. 2018 After being pressured into making music that didn't feel true to herself, she's learned how to stick to her guns. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Arlissa’s Breakthrough Was 10 Years in the Making," 15 Oct. 2018 The round could be adopted by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, who purchased the infantry gun in the 2010s. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Army's Recoilless Rifle Is Getting a Huge Upgrade: Laser-Guided Warheads," 10 Oct. 2018 Redbook: Does your medical training have an impact on your gun legislation efforts? Kaitlin Menza, Redbook, "Everything You Need to Know Before Voting in the Midterm Elections," 10 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Petra Maribel Bolaños De Casarez was gunned down by her ex-husband in Bakersfield. Alyssa Milano, Harper's BAZAAR, "Republicans Are Waging War on Women—and Two Women Can Stop Them," 20 Sep. 2018 The Anfield club now have just under three weeks to prepare for their biggest game of the season, against a side gunning for their third straight European crown., "Jurgen Klopp Invites Very Special Guest to Champions League Final Following Roma Victory," 6 May 2018 Paige is a 23-year-old golfer and social media sensation who’s gunning for a shot in the LPGA circuit.... Marlisse Cepeda, Woman's Day, "The Clever Trick to Opening Those Tough Plastic Packages," 23 Feb. 2016 Here's a robot gunning for one of Peter Parker's main jobs: spinning a web of any size. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "This Robot 3D-Prints a Spider Web Around Itself," 3 Mar. 2015 There were countless people who were indicted for money laundering, or they were gunned down on Sixth Avenue, and there was just a huge percentage who seemed to have criminal histories, and that sort of got me started. Sean Illing, Vox, "Trump’s ties to the Russian mafia go back 3 decades," 12 Sep. 2018 Two men pleaded not guilty Monday to murder charges in the fatal shooting of another man who was gunned down on Good Friday in Dorchester. Jerome Campbell,, "Three days to get away: Prepare for a stylish long weekend," 21 May 2018 Romo testified that Portillo passed down orders from Pike to kill Anthony Benesh, whom the government claims was trying to set up a chapter of the Hells Angels in Austin when he was gunned down by a sniper in March 2006. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "Feds challenge ex-leader’s claim that Bandidos is a “mom and pop” club," 1 May 2018 Toni, who's bisexual, had been gunning for Cheryl's attention—just as friends—the entire episode, and things reached a fever pitch at Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe toward the end, where Cheryl told this story in excruciating, emotional detail. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "There's More to Penelope's Hatred of Cheryl and Toni on 'Riverdale' Than You Think," 14 Mar. 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

18 Dec 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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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).


having a pattern of small flowers

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