pis·​tol ˈpi-stᵊl How to pronounce pistol (audio)
: a handgun whose chamber is integral with the barrel
broadly : handgun
: a notably sharp, spirited, or energetic person
pistol transitive verb

Examples of pistol in a Sentence

a real pistol, she dances rings around the other performers
Recent Examples on the Web Authorities secured a search warrant and found a Ruger .380 LCP pistol in the apartment loaded with rounds that matched an intact bullet found at the scene of the shooting, according to the affidavit. Alexandra E. Petri, Los Angeles Times, 27 Nov. 2023 One morning in January, Buteau was opening his doors and windows, a nervous habit he’s maintained since the earthquake, when four gunmen burst in with pistols drawn. Jason Motlagh, Rolling Stone, 26 Nov. 2023 After that arrest, investigators obtained multiple search warrants for Heal's apartment and found a 9 mm pistol with a green laser light attached and ammunition consistent with evidence from the shooting. Tom Sissom, arkansasonline.com, 19 Nov. 2023 Golan Abitbol, 44, described firing a pistol from inside his kitchen window as Hamas fighters approached, on and off for hours, while his wife and four children sheltered behind him in a safe room. William Booth, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2023 Three weapons – an AR-style rifle, an AR-style pistol and a handgun – were found. CNN, 13 Nov. 2023 This victim’s vision seems weird and fraudulent when Priscilla casually color-coordinates derringer pistols with designer dresses. Armond White, National Review, 3 Nov. 2023 There’s absolutely nothing wrong with carrying and shooting a plain Glock pistol. T. Logan Metesh, Field & Stream, 25 Oct. 2023 Both are facing several charges including carrying a pistol without a license, unauthorized use of a vehicle and unlawful possession of a machine gun. Beatrice Peterson, ABC News, 6 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pistol.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French pistole, from German, from Middle High German pischulle, from Czech píšt'ala, literally, pipe, fife; akin to Czech pištět to squeak

First Known Use

circa 1560, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pistol was circa 1560

Dictionary Entries Near pistol

Cite this Entry

“Pistol.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pistol. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pis·​tol ˈpis-tᵊl How to pronounce pistol (audio)
: a short firearm made to be aimed and fired with one hand

from early French pistole "pistol," from German pistole (same meaning), derived from Czech píšt'ala, literally, "pipe, fife"

More from Merriam-Webster on pistol

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!