pis·​tol | \ ˈpi-stᵊl How to pronounce pistol (audio) \

Definition of pistol

1 : a handgun whose chamber is integral with the barrel broadly : handgun
2 : a notably sharp, spirited, or energetic person

Other Words from pistol

pistol transitive verb

Synonyms for pistol


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of pistol in a Sentence

a real pistol, she dances rings around the other performers
Recent Examples on the Web Keeton grabbed a small black pellet pistol, similar to a BB gun. Washington Post, 11 May 2022 This included $50 for a non-working firearm or part and $150 for a working pistol, rifle or shotgun. Marissa Evansstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 8 May 2022 Avayev was found inside his multi-million dollar Moscow apartment holding a pistol, which was presumably used to kill his wife and 13-year old daughter. Andrew Marquardt, Fortune, 26 Apr. 2022 The ship’s captain, who is responsible for this reckless speed, ultimately kills himself with a pistol—one of the ways in which the Titanic’s captain, Edward. Greg Daugherty, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Apr. 2022 In Marisol - Stop Motion, the artist is in her studio interacting with her work, including John Wayne (1963), a witty sculpture of the iconic Western actor straddling a red horse while wielding a pistol, which appears later on in the PAMM show. Grace Edquist, Vogue, 14 Apr. 2022 Besides those who were struck by the 33 bullets wildly fired from the Glock pistol, which is registered to James, over a dozen other people were injured in the mayhem. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 14 Apr. 2022 While searching Caserta's apartment and car, FBI agents also seized an AR-15 rifle, an AR-15 pistol, two other pistols and a bin filled with a shovel, 9-inch saw, machete, knives and other materials. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, 30 Mar. 2022 Inside the residence, Althaus ran past his ex-girlfriend and toward a male guest in the living room and began hitting him repeatedly with his pistol, creating a deep cut in the victim's head. Brock Blasdell, The Arizona Republic, 4 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pistol.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of pistol

circa 1560, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pistol

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

Learn More About pistol

Time Traveler for pistol

Time Traveler

The first known use of pistol was circa 1560

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near pistol



pistol carbine

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for pistol

Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pistol.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pistol. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for pistol


pis·​tol | \ ˈpi-stᵊl How to pronounce pistol (audio) \

Kids Definition of pistol

: a small gun made to be aimed and fired with one hand

More from Merriam-Webster on pistol

Nglish: Translation of pistol for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pistol for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pistol


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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