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 The remaining weapon, HELIOS, has the potential to become an anti-missile defense system. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy Is Getting Really Into Lasers," 9 Apr. 2021 The Constellation ships are multi-mission ships that are capable of anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare (anti-ship and land attack), and anti-air warfare (anti-aircraft, anti-missile, and now anti-drone) missions. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy Hopes Its New Frigates Will Snap a Mediocre Ship Streak," 14 Jan. 2021 Russia developed the system from an anti-missile system originally meant to protect Moscow from nuclear attack. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "It Sure Looks Like Russia Just Tested a Space Weapon," 17 Dec. 2020 The test was the first multi-missile launch from a Russian ballistic missile submarine in two years. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Watch a Russian Sub Fire Nuke Missiles In a Preview of the End of Civilization," 14 Dec. 2020 Each may be able to carry enough nuclear warheads to overwhelm anti-missile defence systems. The Economist, "China’s ties with America could be tested by North Korea," 19 Nov. 2020 In 2017, Beijing destroyed South Korean retailer Lotte’s business in China after the company sold land to South Korea’s government to install an anti-missile system opposed by Chinese leaders. NBC News, "Boy band BTS under fire in China after thanking Korean vets for their service," 21 Feb. 2020 In 2016, Beijing destroyed supermarket operator Lotte's business in China after the conglomerate sold a plot of land in South Korea to the government for an anti-missile system over Chinese objections. Joe Mcdonald, Star Tribune, "US-China spats rattle world, prompting calls for unity," 28 July 2020 Upgrades have included a larger, 120-millimeter gun, digital communications system, and now the Trophy active protection anti-missile system. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "A U.S. Army M1A2 Abrams Tank Accidentally Shot a Friendly Tank," 27 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Diplomats hope the new talks could engage Tehran on other issues of concern to the U.S., including Iran’s missile program, which Washington regards as a threat to Middle East stability. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "Reviving the Iran Nuclear Deal: What to Expect From the Talks and What Is at Stake," 7 Apr. 2021 The North said its new missile would be a potent deterrent to South Korean and American troops. New York Times, "‘Power for Power’: North Korea Returns to a Show of Force," 24 Mar. 2021 Expected topics: trade, climate change, China, and recent North Korean missile tests. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: Iran facility sabotaged. Are we safer?," 12 Apr. 2021 Both Russia and China have reported successful missile tests of their own. Washington Post, "Air Force hypersonic missile fails to detach from plane during test," 7 Apr. 2021 Transport aircraft could send many armed, relatively cheap drones to attack anti-air missile installations, destroying the weapons and the people crewing them. Kelsey D. Atherton, Popular Science, "This Airbus prototype could deploy drones from cargo planes," 24 Feb. 2021 The move and two rounds of missile tests in recent weeks are a political maneuver by Kim to challenge President Joe Biden's administration and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Cha said. NBC News, "Satellite image shows renewed activity at North Korean nuclear lab," 30 Mar. 2021 South Korea’s National Security Council, following an emergency meeting Thursday morning, expressed deep concern over the missile tests, according to the presidential Blue House. Timothy W. Martin, WSJ, "North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles for First Time in Nearly a Year, U.S. and Japan Say," 25 Mar. 2021 Until just days ago, North Korea had refrained from missile tests in the first two months of the Biden administration but also ignored overtures to hold diplomatic meetings. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "President will consult allies before responding to North Korean missile tests," 25 Mar. 2021

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of missile was in 1610

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Statistics for missile

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Missile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/missile. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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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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