1 of 2


mis·​sile ˈmi-səl How to pronounce missile (audio)
chiefly British
-ˌsīl How to pronounce missile (audio)
: capable of being thrown or projected to strike a distant object
: adapted for throwing or hurling missiles


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

Examples of missile in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Until recently, the U.S. had limited any training of Ukrainians on U.S. weapons systems to Europe and was reluctant to send Patriots to Ukraine – over concerns the advanced anti-missile system and training of Ukrainians on U.S. soil would be seen as escalatory by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, 13 Jan. 2023 Senior Israeli lawmakers have already called on Netanyahu to provide Ukraine with anti-drone and anti-missile systems. Tovah Lazaroff, NBC News, 28 Feb. 2023 Germany has already delivered the first of four Iris-T systems, and Ukraine has also received an Aspide anti-missile system from Spain. Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg.com, 13 Dec. 2022 When China was unhappy with South Korea over its decision to deploy a U.S. anti-missile defense system several years ago, Beijing punished Seoul by curtailing culture exchanges between the two sides. Russell Flannery, Forbes, 12 Aug. 2022 The Italian government has worked closely with France to transfer the SAMP-T air defense system to Ukraine, and the new aid package will also include the Skyguard anti-missile system and Aspide air defense missiles. Katya Soldak, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2023 The 16,000-ton Zumwalt and her only two sister ships, Michael Monsoor and Lyndon B. Johnson, are presently the only surface warships slated to integrate the CPS missiles, carrying up to 12 of the 8-ton missiles in four multi-missile launch tubes. Sebastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 14 Feb. 2023 But an ally that won’t supply its friends with more Patriot anti-missile interceptors simply isn’t credible with these determined adversaries. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 8 Dec. 2021 The spat will likely rekindle memories of China’s decision to dramatically scale back trade with South Korea in 2017 after then-President Moon Jae-in agreed to host a US anti-missile system. Time, 10 Jan. 2023
In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said the missile was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow air defense system, which was jointly developed by Israel and the U.S. Courtney Kube, NBC News, 19 Nov. 2023 But as the weeks pass and the missiles fly, the risk that either side could miscalculate or overreach is growing, said Andrea Tenenti, spokesman for the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, a peacekeeping force that monitors activity on the Lebanese side of the border. Liz Sly, Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2023 Penn’s documentary, which began as a human interest story on a comedian who somehow ended up as president, changed quickly into a compelling war account as Russian missiles began to fall on Kiev while the crew was filming and interviewing Zelenskyy. Will Tizard, Variety, 17 Nov. 2023 The Rafael Peralta is a fearsome presence: five hundred and nine feet long, armed with some ninety-six missiles. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 14 Nov. 2023 In one high-profile success, missiles fired by Ukraine in September damaged the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. Matthew Mpoke Bigg, New York Times, 13 Nov. 2023 According to the report, the cyberattack coincided with the start of a series of missile strikes targeting Ukrainian critical infrastructure across the country. WIRED, 11 Nov. 2023 The Israel Defense Forces said the missiles were shot down with its Hetz anti-ballistic-missile defense system and a Patriot missile system, adding that the missiles never entered Israeli airspace. Ari Flanzraich, WSJ, 10 Nov. 2023 Some autonomous weapons already exist, including defensive systems aboard battleships that can automatically shoot down incoming missiles. WIRED, 8 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History



Latin missilis, from mittere to throw, send

First Known Use


1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1656, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of missile was in 1610

Dictionary Entries Near missile

Cite this Entry

“Missile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/missile. Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


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


from Latin missile "a weapon that is thrown or shot rather than held in the hand," derived from missus, past participle of mittere "to send, throw" — related to emit

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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