\ 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

Here’s the story of how 8chan came to be, and what scientists say can be done to prevent gun violence. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "Security News This Week: Election Systems Are Way More Vulnerable Than We Thought," 10 Aug. 2019 The duo demanded cash and one of the robbers hit the man in the face with his gun, according to police reports. Adam Ferrise,, "Man pistol-whipped, robbed at gunpoint in Cleveland strip club parking lot," 9 Aug. 2019 One of the militia members, a felon named John Frederick Foerster, emerged suddenly from the brush aiming his gun at one of the agents, records said. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Feds are looking for militia man with 'violent tendencies' who mounted armed patrols on South Texas border," 9 Aug. 2019 Dobbins said that the shooter then turned toward a nearby witness, who took out his own gun and fired at the shooter in self defense. Madeline Fitzgerald, Time, "Gunman With Rifle Kills 2 People on Houston Freeway in Rush Hour Traffic – Then Escapes," 9 Aug. 2019 Armed guards in high towers, their guns pointed inward. Los Angeles Times, "For Japanese Americans, ‘The Terror’ is personal," 9 Aug. 2019 During his meeting with HR on July 11, according to the risk warrant, Hirschfeld acted strangely and repeatedly referred to his guns. David Owens,, "DEEP employee accused of making threatening statements to coworkers jailed after police find banned assault weapon in his home," 9 Aug. 2019 In Hell’s Kitchen, that protection comes from the Irish mob, kept flush by businesses in need of their guns and muscle. Barbara Vandenburgh, Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, "You’ll be glad to get out of the overcooked 'Kitchen'," 8 Aug. 2019 In Hell's Kitchen, that protection comes from the Irish mob, kept flush by businesses in need of their guns and muscle. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Mob wives rule, but get these actresses out of 'The Kitchen'," 7 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Booker will be speaking at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina -- the site where a group of black parishioners were gunned down by a white supremacist in 2015. CBS News, "Cory Booker speaks on rise in gun violence and white nationalism – live stream," 7 Aug. 2019 Kelly Street Neighborhood Park, which is on Kelly Street southwest of Comstock Street and Linda Vista Road, was the site where 16-year-old Carlos Valdovinos was gunned down May 23. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, "One person shot, wounded in Linda Vista in 3rd shooting within 3 months on same street," 7 Aug. 2019 The El Paso shooting, where 21 people were gunned down at a Walmart, marked the 250th mass shooting in the U.S. this year. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, "Fox News host Shepard Smith says another mass shooting will 'happen yet again in America'," 5 Aug. 2019 Does anyone have a sense that Dayton and El Paso – where 21 people were gunned down at a Wal-Mart Saturday morning – could be a tipping point in the ongoing and escalating war America is having with itself? Paul Daugherty,, "Doc's Morning Line: This is America. We should be better than this. Do something.," 5 Aug. 2019 The weekend shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, where nine and at least 22 people were gunned down, respectively, clearly fits the term. Elyssa Cherney,, "The same weekend as massacres in El Paso and Dayton, 15 people were shot in 2 Chicago incidents. Why aren’t those called mass shootings too?," 5 Aug. 2019 Davis was encountered less than a mile from the racetrack where Jones was gunned down, the prosecutor said. Tim Prudente,, "Allegations of planted evidence, grim details as 4th murder trial opens for Keith Davis Jr. in Baltimore," 16 July 2019 The most shockingly inexplicable is that of Jack Berman, the studious, abstemious son of Holocaust survivors who fulfills his parents’ dreams by becoming a successful lawyer — and, at age 36, is gunned down by a random madman who hates lawyers. Evan Thomas, Washington Post, "An unsettling portrait of four privileged classmates who met untimely deaths," 25 July 2019 In 2014, the steer headed for slaughter leaped a barbed-wire fence and took a 2-mile walk along North Avenue before being gunned down by police in Mid-Town Belvedere. Colin Campbell,, "Pair of steers corralled after breaking free in West Baltimore," 13 June 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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Learn More about gun

Dictionary Entries near gun

gum up the works







Statistics for gun

Last Updated

14 Aug 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 haphazard or makeshift solution

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