kamikaze

noun
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

kamikaze

adjective

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for kamikaze

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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: Noun There would be a kind of kamikaze courage about their action if this was indeed its objective. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "An Awesome Spectacle of Dishonesty and Opportunism," 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, "Former kamikaze pilot tells his story of a war he wasn't meant to survive," 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, "What Drives Writers to Drink?," 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, "Former kamikaze pilot tells his story of a war he wasn't meant to survive," 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, "He Escaped Death as a Kamikaze Pilot. 70 Years Later, He Told His Story.," 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, "Researchers Locate Wreck of Battleship That Survived Pearl Harbor and Nuclear Bomb Tests," 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, "How computational power—or its absence—shaped World War naval battles," 25 Mar. 2020 Lumet’s kamikaze working methods could take some collaborators aback. Brooke Allen, WSJ, "‘Sidney Lumet: A Life’ Review: Man of Action," 7 Feb. 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, "Reassured by Biden Win, Palestinians Will Resume Cooperation With Israel," 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, "I’ve Been Sounding Taps Since My Ship Was Attacked in 1945," 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, "Wreckage of USS Nevada, battleship that survived Pearl Harbor attack and atomic bomb tests, found in Pacific Ocean," 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, "The Government Wants to Use Your Brainwaves to Train Swarms of Military Robots," 10 Feb. 2020 This new threat replicated the kamikaze attacks and threatened to overwhelm American defenses. Haomiao Huang, Ars Technica, "How computational power—or its absence—shaped World War naval battles," 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, "‘West Side Story’ Review: Sharks vs. Jets vs. Video," 20 Feb. 2020 Simultaneously, swarms of speedboats loaded with explosives launched kamikaze attacks. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Lost a (Fictional) War With Iran 18 Years Ago," 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, "An unsettling portrait of four privileged classmates who met untimely deaths," 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.

See More

First Known Use of kamikaze

Noun

1945, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1944, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for kamikaze

Noun

Japanese, literally, divine wind

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about kamikaze

Time Traveler for kamikaze

Time Traveler

The first known use of kamikaze was in 1944

See more words from the same year

Statistics for kamikaze

Cite this Entry

“Kamikaze.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kamikaze. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for kamikaze

kamikaze

noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on kamikaze

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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