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

Still others flee at parades, spooked by the aural nightmare of musket fire and sirens and marching bands. Billy Baker,, "Summer fireworks season is peak time for runaway dogs," 7 July 2018 The braves demonstrated their prowess with the bow and arrow, the Pilgrims with their muskets. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "The Pilgrims Take Manhattan," 21 Nov. 2018 Brown was chosen to lead an advance group, called Forlorn Hope because of their chance of survival, to storm the redoubt armed with only bayonets and fending off musket fire and cannons. Cincinnati Enquirer,, "Our history: Revolutionary War patriots among city settlers," 3 July 2018 Led by Major Dade on horseback, the blue-uniformed U.S. troops march out in two lines, shouldering muskets and pulling a six-pounder cannon through the pine and palmetto brush. Vincent Crampton,, "Explore Florida's Sumter County: The massacre that sparked a war," 6 May 2018 But a journalist who parachutes into the Sixth District, expecting to write about tax policy or health care, soon ends up pondering stranger questions: Is civility simply outmoded in 2018, the equivalent of bringing a flintlock musket to a gunfight? Kyle Peterson, WSJ, "A House Majority by ‘Any Means Necessary’," 19 Oct. 2018 Thus, the Molly Cutthroats were born — an all-women, skirt-wearing, musket-toting group of Revolutionary War enthusiasts. Laney Ruckstuhl,, "At Patriot’s Day festivities, a group of musket-toting women make a statement," 20 Apr. 2018 Downtown at the Alamo, a party offered visitors free paletas and old-fashioned musket and rifle demonstrations. Brian Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "Communities come together across San Antonio to celebrate the Fourth," 4 July 2018 Bies and his team could identify the source of the deformed bullet as an Enfield rifle musket. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "Newly Unearthed Civil War Bones Speak Silently to the Grim Aftermath of Battle," 20 June 2018

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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Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for musket

The first known use of musket was in 1574

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More Definitions for musket



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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More from Merriam-Webster on musket

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for musket

Spanish Central: Translation of musket

Nglish: Translation of musket for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about musket

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