\ 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

That guns would take the lives of 44 people by Labor Day. Jessica Contrera, Washington Post, "She and her twin were inseparable. Then a gunman tore the 15-year-olds apart.," 8 Sep. 2019 Not all gun purchases are subject to a federal background check system. Lisa Marie Pane, Houston Chronicle, "US mass shooters exploited gaps, errors in background checks," 7 Sep. 2019 This was a year before the federal indictments against the gun task force were announced. John Holland,, "Police officers on Baltimore’s tainted Gun Trace Task Force are locked up. But the lawsuits keep pouring in.," 7 Sep. 2019 Not all gun purchases are subject to a federal background check system. Lisa Marie Pane,, "American mass shooters exploit background check errors, poor enforcement, private purchases; most get guns legally," 7 Sep. 2019 Getting guns off the streets and advocating for reforms. Robert Scheer, Indianapolis Star, "'This is not normal': Hundreds of mourners gather to remember teen siblings found shot in their home," 7 Sep. 2019 According to court documents uncovered at Forbes, federal investigators have requested that Apple and Google turn over information about people who downloaded a gun scope app Obsidian 4. Wired, "Security News This Week: An Unprecedented Cyberattack Hit US Power Utilities," 7 Sep. 2019 The presence of more gun shops was also associated with an increase in suicide rates in all counties, except for the most rural ones, the researchers reported. Linda Carroll, NBC News, "Suicide rates are rising, especially in rural America," 6 Sep. 2019 When the woman's boyfriend brought out a bag of marijuana, Jeronimo, Garcia and Herrera pulled out guns, announced the robbery and told the victims not to move. Jesse Garza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee teens charged in killing during bogus Facebook drug deal," 6 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His eyes were bright and kind and tilted just to his right, toward the doorway where he was gunned down. Jessica Contrera, Washington Post, "She and her twin were inseparable. Then a gunman tore the 15-year-olds apart.," 8 Sep. 2019 The two children of Stephon Clark will receive $2.4 million from the city of Sacramento as part of a settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit that was filed by Clark’s family after he was gunned down by police last year. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Children Of Stephon Clark To Receive $2.4 Million From City Of Sacramento," 6 Sep. 2019 His funeral procession stretched for three miles and passed the spot where he was gunned down. Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Margarine smugglers, a deadly milk war and more flavor Wisconsin's dairy history," 28 Aug. 2019 Antonio Basco had been married to her for 22 years, until she and 21 others were gunned down at a shopping center in El Paso on Aug. 3. Christopher Brito, CBS News, "Husband whose wife died in El Paso shooting invites public to her funeral services," 14 Aug. 2019 The victims inside the Walmart will remain at the scene where they were gunned down. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "El Paso mass shooting victims remain at the scene as authorities investigate," 4 Aug. 2019 He was gunned down on the basketball court in May 2018. Tim Prudente,, "Indictment in basketball court killing alleges violence, camaraderie in Southwest Baltimore drug crew," 8 July 2019 He was gunned down outside of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles in March. Ale Russian,, "Crips Gang Won't Fight Late Nipsey Hussle's Family for Phrase Trademark: Report," 4 July 2019 Andre Price was 21 when he was gunned down on June 27, 1995, at 5563 Yuba Way. Noelle Phillips, The Denver Post, "Denver cold case: Police still searching for suspects in 1995 shooting death of Andre Price," 27 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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Dictionary Entries near gun

gum up the works







Statistics for gun

Last Updated

11 Sep 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

What made you want to look up gun? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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