mis·​sile | \ˈmi-səl, chiefly British -ˌsīl \

Definition of missile 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : capable of being thrown or projected to strike a distant object

2 : adapted for throwing or hurling missiles



Definition of missile (Entry 2 of 2)

: an object (such as a weapon) thrown or projected usually so as to strike something at a distance stones, artillery shells, bullets, and rockets are missiles : such as

a : guided missile

b : ballistic missile

Examples of missile in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Missile launches and nuclear tests are banned by the U.N. Security Council, but North Korea has paid no attention to its resolutions. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "Trump: 'All options are on the table' after North Korea missile launch," 29 Aug. 2017 Missile launches and nuclear tests are banned by the U.N. Security Council, but North Korea has paid no attention to its resolutions. John Wagner, Washington Post, "Trump: ‘All options are on the table’ after North Korea launched missile over Japan," 29 Aug. 2017 Missile experts say the North’s shift to solids came as a surprise. David E. Sanger And William J. Broad, New York Times, "North Korean Tests Add Urgency for U.S. to Fix Defense Flaws," 29 May 2017 Missile experts haven't identified the four intermediate-range missiles that landed on Monday off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, about 620 miles from its... Jonathan Cheng, WSJ, "North Korea Missile Test Stirs ICBM Fears," 7 Mar. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

North Korea hasn’t conducted a missile launch or bomb test since Messrs. Trump and Kim met in June, and Pyongyang has disabled a facility considered its main nuclear site. Courtney Mcbride, WSJ, "Pompeo to Meet North Korean Counterpart on Denuclearization," 31 Oct. 2018 My Pip-Boy computer alerts me to the fact that a nuclear missile is about to launch. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Fallout 76 journal, day 4: the bombs are falling," 26 Nov. 2018 That’s scary, especially since such a missile could carry nuclear warheads. Alex Ward, Vox, "China’s military power could match America’s by 2050," 14 Nov. 2018 The American people need to remember the North Koreans haven’t launched a missile, haven’t conducted a nuclear test. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, "U.S., North Korea Toughen Stance Ahead of Nuclear Talks," 6 Nov. 2018 Russia has repeatedly denied allegations that it has produced and tested such a missile. Fox News, "Bolton faces tense talks with Russia over nuclear treaty," 22 Oct. 2018 That could include a missile launched by another country at the U.S. or a tsunami. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: A NYT financial investigation punctures Trump’s ‘self-made’ image," 3 Oct. 2018 More broadly, Chinese commentators have suggested Beijing also could disrupt diplomatic work over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs or other initiatives. San Antonio Express-News, "China’s options to hit US go beyond imports," 9 July 2018 At least one Israeli was seriously injured on Monday when an antitank missile fired from Gaza struck a bus near the border, Israeli paramedics said, and at least 10 others were lightly injured by shrapnel in or near the Israeli town of Sderot. Dov Lieber, WSJ, "Israel, Gaza Militants Exchange Heavy Fire After Raid Goes Awry," 12 Nov. 2018

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


1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1656, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for missile


Latin missilis, from mittere to throw, send

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Statistics for missile

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Time Traveler for missile

The first known use of missile was in 1610

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English Language Learners Definition of missile

: an object that is thrown, shot, or launched as a weapon; especially : a rocket that explodes when it hits a distant target


mis·​sile | \ˈmi-səl \

Kids Definition of missile

: an object (as a stone, arrow, bullet, or rocket) that is dropped, thrown, shot, or launched usually so as to strike something at a distance

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More from Merriam-Webster on missile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with missile

Spanish Central: Translation of missile

Nglish: Translation of missile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of missile for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about missile

Comments on missile

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