ka·​mi·​ka·​ze | \ˌkä-mi-ˈkä-zē \

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for kamikaze

Synonyms: Adjective

daredevil, devil-may-care, foolhardy, harum-scarum, hell-for-leather, irresponsible, reckless

Antonyms: Adjective


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Did You Know?

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


a bike messenger who regularly cuts across busy city streets with a kamikaze boldness

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Attached to the sub were aquatic kamikazes: mini-subs called kaiten armed with explosives. Tony Perry, latimes.com, "A secret mission, torpedoes, sharks and the men who survived: The story of the 'Indianapolis'," 6 July 2018 As the now 20-year-old Pokora split his energies between helping to run Horizon and attending university, Wheeler continued his kamikaze quest for attention. Brendan I. Koerner, WIRED, "The Young and the Reckless," 17 Apr. 2018 Japanese forces, including kamikazes, sank 36 American ships and damaged 368 more. Michael Judge, WSJ, "My Grandfather and the ‘Blue Eyes-Brown Eyes’ Lesson," 6 Apr. 2018 The infamous destroyer, which was ultimately attacked by kamikazes and sunk in 1944, had been unseen for 73 years—until now. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "See Wreckage of Vessel That Fired First American Shot in WWII," 6 Dec. 2017 This time, the Dolphin kamikaze rush proved a game saver. By Bob Rubin, miamiherald, "When Christmas dinner was delayed as the Miami Dolphins played on and on," 19 Dec. 2016 Hiroshi Ogura, the youngest brother, born in 1925 in Portland, was a kamikaze pilot at the end of World War II. Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times, "A Hiroshima survivor carries on Seattle-born husband’s mission of remembrance," 4 Aug. 2017 On Nov. 1, 1944, while Cerv was on the U.S.S. Claxton in Leyte Gulf, a kamikaze pilot attacked it, seriously damaging the destroyer’s starboard side and killing five men. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Bob Cerv, Three-Time Yankee and One-Time All-Star, Dies at 91," 13 Apr. 2017 The concert ended with the Piano Sonata of Yoshinao Nakada, a work begun in 1949, not long after the war in which its composer had served as a kamikaze pilot — and survived. Corinna Da Fonseca-wollheim, New York Times, "Review: Japan Meets France, Through a Pianist’s Sensitivity," 2 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Anti-scooter activists tend to paint scooter riders as kamikaze daredevils, slaloming through cars and pedestrians. Kevin Roose, New York Times, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Electric Scooters," 6 June 2018 American soldiers had slowly and bloodily fought their way, island by island, across the Pacific, while the Japanese were running out of kamikaze pilots and planes, and their navy had been half destroyed. New York Times, "The Sinking of the Most Powerful Warship in History," 11 May 2018 The Americans have landed on Okinawa, and kamikaze pilots are not the only agents of imperial Japan engaged in suicide missions. Tom Nagorski, WSJ, "‘Battleship Yamato’ Review: Big Guns, Outgunned," 10 May 2018 Others just make a kamikaze run against U.S. targets. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "What Putin Would Nuke," 5 Mar. 2018 One intriguing possibility: Since there appears to be no way to recover the drone for reuse, why not turn it into a kamikaze platform? Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy’s Next Jet May Have Its Own Drone," 7 Dec. 2017 The Chiefs had noted how the Dolphins liked to put on a kamikaze rush to block kicks, so Stram decided to call a fake. By Bob Rubin, miamiherald, "When Christmas dinner was delayed as the Miami Dolphins played on and on," 19 Dec. 2016 The result was a three-headed attack that allowed Westbrook to be efficient in ways his kamikaze ball couldn’t allow for last season. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "Westbrook Recorded a Triple-Double but His New Big Three Shown Brightest in Season Opener," 19 Oct. 2017 The dog also accompanied Wynne on 12 aerial combat missions, was awarded eight battle stars, and survived a kamikaze attack and a typhoon. Brian Albrecht, cleveland.com, "Smoky of World War II recognized by U.S. War Dogs Association (photos, video)," 13 Oct. 2017

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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Dictionary Entries near kamikaze







Kamloops trout

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Time Traveler for kamikaze

The first known use of kamikaze was in 1944

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on kamikaze

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kamikaze

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kamikaze

Spanish Central: Translation of kamikaze

Nglish: Translation of kamikaze for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about kamikaze

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to enclose within walls

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