\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Stryker Dragoon is an example of the Army quickly addressing an urgent need from the field, developing the new gun and turret and testing it over a period of about two and a half years. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Army is Upgrading the Stryker Armored Vehicle With a Bigger Gun," 3 May 2019 Police searched his house and found a loaded gun and 45 empty containers for six different prescription medications, per The Dayton Daily News. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Complete Timeline of the Events of Dirty John," 14 Jan. 2019 Fuentes was in the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, jail in May 2016 on hit-and-run, gun and drug charges. Blaine Tolison, ajc, "Couple signs plea deal admitting they forced children into prostitution in Myrtle Beach," 11 July 2018 In the last several years, companies have stepped up to address other critical issues, including gun violence, immigration, and LGTBQ rights. Ilyse Hogue, Glamour, "Attention Corporate America, Women Need to Know That You Support Their Reproductive Rights," 23 Apr. 2019 Then there's the talk about teachers having guns in classrooms. Marie Claire, "A Year of Grieving and Healing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School," 14 Feb. 2019 As Vox’s German Lopez explains, Bradford did appear to have a gun. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "The Alabama mall shooting highlights the dangers of owning a gun while black," 26 Nov. 2018 The man alleged that another officer falsely told Moss that the man had a gun. Ian Duncan,, "Baltimore Police detective suspended after judge orders him to give up gun in domestic violence case," 13 July 2018 Hunter, an 18-year-old from Berkeley in a lime-green suit, had a gun, for protection. James Sullivan,, "Recalling Altamont as a crime story," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a teenage girl named Dnigma Howard is accusing the police, officers, and schools of violating her civil rights after she was allegedly beaten, dragged down a set of stairs, stun-gunned, and stepped on by two cops. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Chicago Police Are Facing a Lawsuit After Video Showed Officers Beating 16-Year-Old Dnigma Howard," 12 Apr. 2019 Outside, someone in a Polaris Slingshot gunned it through smokey drifts on a tight autocross course. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Car Shows Used to Be Amazing—And They Might Be Again," 5 Dec. 2018 The attack Sunday followed a string of mass shootings in Florida in recent years – including the Parkland high school massacre that left 17 dead in February, the five people gunned down at the Ft. Emilie Ikeda, Fox News, "Florida candidates flock to Jacksonville ahead of highly anticipated primary," 27 Aug. 2018 Police gunned down Parojinog, his wife, two of his siblings, and 11 other people in a series of coordinated pre-dawn raids on properties including the mayor’s residence. Joseph Hincks, Time, "Duterte is Assassinating Opponents Under the Cover of the Drug War, Philippine Rights Groups Say," 5 July 2018 He had been arrested the previous April after New Orleans police identified him as the man who gunned down pizza delivery driver Michael Price, a 36-year-old husband and father of three. Laura Mcknight,, "New Orleans men sentenced in Lower 9th Ward carjacking," 21 May 2018 Cruz, a 19-year-old ex-student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, went to the school with an assault-style rifle on Feb. 14 and gunned down 34 students and staff, killing 17. Tonya Alanez,, "Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz waives right to speedy trial," 27 Apr. 2018 And while nothing excuses violent protests — the looting, the plundering, destruction of public property — the report certainly explained why people were fed up with police gunning down African Americans in alarming numbers. Anchorage Daily News, "Police shootings? Racial tension? Don’t expect input from Trump administration.," 31 Mar. 2018 The heavily armed teenager who gunned down students and adults at a Florida high school was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder, court documents showed. Andrew Malcolm, San Francisco Chronicle, "What we can do about gun violence — follow the law," 22 Feb. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gun

Dictionary Entries near gun

gum up the works







Statistics for gun

Last Updated

22 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gun

The first known use of gun was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!