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 Indian holds a bow and shield; the Puritan, a musket. Anthony Kronman, Twin Cities, "Anthony Kronman: Hiding the dark parts of our history on campuses is bad for our democracy," 26 Aug. 2019 The smell of the campfire and the occasional sound of a musket firing might attract your attention., "Community News For The Hebron Edition," 13 Sep. 2019 Archaeologists have unearthed artifacts believed to be from the final battle of the English Civil War, including musket balls, horse harness fittings and sword hilts. Fox News, "Artifacts believed to be from final battle of English Civil War discovered," 4 Sep. 2019 Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh backed Donald Trump for president in 2016, going so far as to threaten to grab his musket if the businessman lost to Hillary Clinton. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "Daywatch: Joe Walsh is taking on Trump, what all those Chicago mayoral candidates are up to and other things to know to start your day," 26 Aug. 2019 She was reportedly hit by musket fire in the summer of 1782, but refused medical treatment for a leg injury due to fears that her true identity would be discovered. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Diary Sheds Light on Deborah Sampson, Who Fought in the Revolutionary War," 2 July 2019 Pikes and swords were less of a threat than musket fire. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Century-Long Evolution of the U.S. Army Helmet," 27 June 2019 That reasoned xenophobia was reinforced by British colonialists, who turned their muskets and cannons on the islanders, stole their land, then stood back as pestilence carried off most of the population. Alex Perry, Outside Online, "The Last Days of John Allen Chau," 24 July 2019 The schedule includes a full day of activities, like musket firing demonstrations and interactive military drills, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The events will be held at the fort on the park’s 585-acre landscape, bordering the Potomac River. Brittany Brown,, "Five Maryland historical sites hosting Fourth of July events," 2 July 2019

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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Statistics for musket

Last Updated

1 Oct 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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