mus·​ket | \ ˈmə-skət How to pronounce musket (audio) \

Definition of musket

: a heavy large-caliber muzzle-loading usually smoothbore shoulder firearm broadly : a shoulder gun carried by infantry

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Did You Know?

In the early era of firearms, cannons of lesser size such as the falconet were sometimes named for birds of prey. Following this pattern, Italians applied moschetto or moschetta, meaning "sparrow hawk," to a small-caliber piece of ordnance in the 16th century. Spaniards borrowed this word as mosquete and the French as mosquet, but applied it to a heavy shoulder firearm rather than a cannon; English musket was borrowed soon thereafter from French. The word musket was retained after the original matchlock firing mechanism was replaced by a wheel lock, and the wheel lock by the flintlock. As the practice of rifling firearms-incising the barrel with spiral grooves to improve the bullet's accuracy-became more common, musket gradually gave way to the newer word rifle in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Examples of musket in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The head of the statue was then decapitated and perched on top of a spike, and much of the rest was melted down to make 42,000 musket balls for American soldiers. John Blake, CNN, "Our country is in chaos. But it's a great time to be an American," 4 July 2020 Learn about blacksmithing, watch a live musket demo, and climb to the top of the 35-foot watchtower for panoramic views of St. Augustine’s bayfront and the historic Castillo de San Marcos. Kara Franker, Southern Living, "Things to Do in St. Augustine, Florida: Attractions and Travel Guide," 30 June 2020 The patriots melted down the shards and made them into musket balls to fight the American Revolution. Sean Wilentz, WSJ, "Monuments to a Complicated Past," 25 June 2020 The confrontation led to a scuffle which ended when White struck Garrick with his musket in the head, drawing the attention of other colonists. Fox News, "What made the Boston Massacre a pivotal turning point leading up to the American Revolution," 24 Feb. 2020 Almost 200 paintings, engravings, books, maps, muskets, pots and pans — original works of art and everyday items — detail the Pilgrims’ journey from 1604 to 1621. Tanya Mohn, New York Times, "A Fresh Take on the Mayflower’s History," 10 Mar. 2020 But a perfectly round musket ball was worth plucking from the muck. Megan Specia, New York Times, "Mudlarks Scour the Thames to Uncover 2,000 Years of Secrets," 12 Feb. 2020 One of the first defenders killed was Alamo commander William Barret Travis, who fired at least one shot from the north wall before he was struck by a musket ball in the head. Scott Huddleston,, "Alamo battle remembered," 6 Mar. 2020 In an engraving of the 1780s, the African king leans elegantly on a musket—the source of his army’s might. Felipe Fernández-armesto, WSJ, "‘A Fistful of Shells’ Review: Buyers, Sellers and Rulers," 18 Feb. 2020

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

1574, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for musket

Middle French mousquet, from Old Italian moschetto small artillery piece, sparrow hawk, from diminutive of mosca fly, from Latin musca — more at midge

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Time Traveler for musket

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The first known use of musket was in 1574

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Cite this Entry

“Musket.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for musket


How to pronounce musket (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of musket

: a type of long gun that was used by soldiers before the invention of the rifle


mus·​ket | \ ˈmə-skət How to pronounce musket (audio) \

Kids Definition of musket

: a firearm that is loaded through the muzzle and that was once used by soldiers trained to fight on foot

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