mis·​sile | \ ˈmi-səl How to pronounce missile (audio) , chiefly British -ˌsīl How to pronounce missile (audio) \

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

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

Neither Beijing nor Washington seems to be letting the recent spate of North Korean missile tests get in the way of that. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, "Chinese traders prepare for rush into North Korea. But sanctions still stand in the way.," 9 Aug. 2019 President Trump’s policy of pairing maximum pressure with summit diplomacy has at least stopped North Korea’s long-range missile tests and underground nuclear tests, but the threat posed by Pyongyang is far from over. Taylor Dinerman, National Review, "The Ongoing Japan–South Korea Spat Could Threaten U.S. and Regional Security," 7 Aug. 2019 The weapon will consist of small missiles carried into launching position atop Army trucks. Lee Roop | Lroop@al.com, al, "Alabama will benefit as defense focus returns to arms race," 7 Aug. 2019 Tehran’s support for extremist movements, intervention in the Middle East, missile tests, and human-rights abuses. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "Iran’s Eye-for-an-Eye Strategy in the Gulf," 19 July 2019 President Trump announced in February 2019 that the U.S. would withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty unless Russia eliminates one category of nuclear missiles that the U.S. claims exceed the treaty limit. Ian Johnstone, The Conversation, "What is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? Here’s why it’s still important," 15 July 2019 Arms Race Pyongyang has accelerated missile tests under Kim Jong Un, who assumed power after his father's death in late 2011. Timothy W. Martin And Dasl Yoon, WSJ, "North Korea Threatens the South Over Its Purchase of U.S. Stealth Fighters," 11 July 2019 The missile test was part of those exercises, according to NBC News, which first reported the Chinese action. Brad Lendon, CNN, "China tests anti-ship missile in South China Sea, Pentagon says," 3 July 2019 This was later used as weaponry in the form of missiles. Claire Wolters, National Geographic, "Red, white, and boom? How fireworks came to America," 3 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for missile

The first known use of missile was in 1610

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More Definitions for missile



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 How to pronounce missile (audio) \

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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Comments on missile

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


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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