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ka·​mi·​ka·​ze ˌkä-mi-ˈkä-zē How to pronounce kamikaze (audio)
: 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)
: an airplane containing explosives to be flown in a suicide crash on a target


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

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

Adjective a bike messenger who regularly cuts across busy city streets with a kamikaze boldness
Recent Examples on the Web
The aim, says the spokesman, is twofold: to save Ukrainian lives and to trick Russians into squandering their own, very expensive, kamikaze drones, shells and missiles. Melissa Bell, CNN, 11 Sep. 2023 Other likely causes might have included anti-tank mines, Russian kamikaze drones, or long-range anti-tank missiles fired by helicopter. Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 6 Sep. 2023 And though Kaufman was the most crazy-visionary comedian of his time — a kamikaze jester, a stand-up performance artist, a cracked genius of the what-is-reality? Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 31 Aug. 2023 The flag was described by the Lexington as the relic of a kamikaze pilot. Daniel Wu, Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2023 The goal: deliver 6,000 more kamikaze drones—two-thirds of them produced entirely locally—to Russia's military by September of 2025. Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 18 Aug. 2023 The apparent casualties suffered by the escorting corvettes reinforces the danger Ukraine’s kamikaze boat fleet poses, despite the high attrition rate to defensive fire. Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 3 Aug. 2023 Those who managed to avoid the mines came under attack from multiple Russian kamikaze drones. Carlotta Gall, New York Times, 31 July 2023 In mid-May, following a few months of quiet in the skies over Kyiv, Russia restarted its almost nightly bombardments of cruise missiles and kamikaze drones. WIRED, 25 July 2023
Some took the news as an occasion for some kamikaze-style trolling. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 11 Nov. 2022 Models such as the Iranian Shahed-136, which Russia bought by the planeload, are capable of one-way, kamikaze-style attacks. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 13 Oct. 2022 As well as their work to attach grenades to drones, Tkach and his colleagues are also taking other types of drones, and attaching explosives to them so they can be flown directly into a target in a kamikaze-style attack. Tom Soufi Burridge, ABC News, 10 Oct. 2022 The White House knows the term ‘loitering munition’ for drones fitted with warheads for kamikaze-style attacks, like the U.S. Switchblades supplied to Ukraine, and did not use it in the statement. David Hambling, Forbes, 15 July 2022 The Switchblade drone is the newest form of lethal assistance -- a small kamikaze-style drone launched from a tube that can track and attack armored targets. Conor Finnegan, ABC News, 16 Mar. 2022 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 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'kamikaze.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Japanese, literally, divine wind

First Known Use


1945, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1944, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of kamikaze was in 1944

Dictionary Entries Near kamikaze

Cite this Entry

“Kamikaze.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kamikaze. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

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