ka·​mi·​ka·​ze | \ ˌkä-mi-ˈkä-zē How to pronounce kamikaze (audio) \

Definition of kamikaze

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a member of a Japanese air attack corps in World War II assigned to make a suicidal crash on a target (such as a ship)
2 : an airplane containing explosives to be flown in a suicide crash on a target



Definition of kamikaze (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or resembling a kamikaze
2 : having or showing reckless disregard for safety or personal welfare

Synonyms & Antonyms for kamikaze

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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In 1274 and 1281 Kublai Khan, the Mongol emperor of China, sent out great fleets to conquer Japan. Providential storms dispersed the fleets on both occasions and reinforced the Japanese belief that their gods would forever protect them. To the Japanese this salvation was kamikaze, “divine wind.” In World War II Japanese pilots who were willing to give up their lives to help save their country by destroying American ships were the members of a special corps named kamikaze after the storm that had saved Japan seven centuries earlier.

Examples of kamikaze in a Sentence

Adjective a bike messenger who regularly cuts across busy city streets with a kamikaze boldness
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Harop, by contrast, dives at its target like a kamikaze, exploding on impact. Thomas Mutch, Popular Mechanics, 29 Oct. 2021 There would be a kind of kamikaze courage about their action if this was indeed its objective. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 4 Jan. 2021 But as the generation who lived through the war fades away, Japan’s opposing political sides are vying to reinterpret the kamikaze for a public divided over the conflict’s legacy. Ben Dooley, Star Tribune, 3 Dec. 2020 The movie is structured around Thomas’s final kamikaze drinking session at the White Horse Tavern in Manhattan, the legendary 18 straight whiskies from which there could be no coming back. James Parker, The Atlantic, 24 Dec. 2020 The kamikaze are the most potent symbol of the war in Japan, a vivid example of the dangers of fervent nationalism and martial fanaticism. Ben Dooley, Star Tribune, 3 Dec. 2020 The kamikaze are the most potent symbol of the war in Japan, a vivid example of the dangers of fervent nationalism and martial fanaticism. Ben Dooley, New York Times, 3 Dec. 2020 The following year, the battleship participated in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, sustaining damage in separate kamikaze and artillery attacks. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 May 2020 Over the next year, the pilots of Japan’s Special Attack Units, known to all as the kamikaze, wrought havoc on the USN. Haomiao Huang, Ars Technica, 25 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The annexation plans were shelved, not canceled, and not in response to the Palestinians’ kamikaze-style pressure tactics. Adam Rasgon, New York Times, 17 Nov. 2020 On the morning of May 1, George Sherwood, a 17-year-old signalman, stood watch on the bridge as it was attacked by a kamikaze aircraft; 48 servicemen were killed or went missing, and more than a hundred others were wounded. New York Times, 21 May 2020 The USS Nevada also played a key role in the invasion of Okinawa, where a Japanese kamikaze attack on March 27, 1945 left 11 of the ship's crew members dead and 41 wounded. Stephen Smith, CBS News, 13 May 2020 Flock-93, for example, is a vision of 100 kamikaze-like drones, each armed with an explosive charge, swarming targets like vehicle convoys. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, 10 Feb. 2020 This new threat replicated the kamikaze attacks and threatened to overwhelm American defenses. Haomiao Huang, Ars Technica, 25 Mar. 2020 Yet generally, these dancers seem less like kamikaze street warriors than scampering puppies, who like nothing more than to run around in circles and wriggle on their backs. Ben Brantley, New York Times, 20 Feb. 2020 Simultaneously, swarms of speedboats loaded with explosives launched kamikaze attacks. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 3 Jan. 2020 In Japan during World War II, on the eve of their fatal flights, kamikaze pilots often wrote letters apologizing to their parents for causing them grief with their premature deaths. Evan Thomas, Washington Post, 25 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kamikaze.' 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 kamikaze


1945, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1944, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for kamikaze


Japanese, literally, divine wind

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The first known use of kamikaze was in 1944

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Cite this Entry

“Kamikaze.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kamikaze. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for kamikaze



English Language Learners Definition of kamikaze

: one of a group of Japanese pilots in World War II who were assigned to crash their planes into their targets

More from Merriam-Webster on kamikaze

Nglish: Translation of kamikaze for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about kamikaze


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