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

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Other Words from pistol

pistol transitive verb

Examples of pistol in a Sentence

a real pistol, she dances rings around the other performers
Recent Examples on the Web The man, Travis McMichael, 34, told police that a Smith & Wesson 9-millimeter pistol had been stolen from his unlocked Ford pickup truck. Richard Fausset, New York Times, "Where Ahmaud Arbery Ran, Neighbors Cast Wary Eyes," 16 May 2020 Kenseth, 48, always thought a proper track should have banking and begin with a green flag not a starter’s pistol. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Back in the fast lane, NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth has kept in shape by running marathons," 15 May 2020 Two plastic toy pistols were found in a dresser in Wolf’s bedroom, but neither tested positive for his DNA. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, "LAPD officer in violent beating video has been involved in three prior shootings," 6 May 2020 Police found a 3 1/2-inch knife in a sheath on his left hip, and Hedgpeth also had an empty pistol holster on his right hip, authorities said. Bloomberg.com, "Man Carrying Knife Arrested Outside White House After Threat," 5 May 2020 Alternatively, the lead may have been from dust produced by the lead balls used in 16th-century scatter guns and pistols. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "X-rayed artifacts from famed shipwreck shed light on secrets of Tudor armor," 5 May 2020 So is the 13-round magazine, which gives this pistol the highest capacity of any on this list. Richard Mann, Field & Stream, "5 Reliable Handguns Under $500," 4 May 2020 North Carolina law requires residents to obtain either a pistol-purchase permit or concealed handgun permit to buy a handgun. Nyamekye Daniel, Washington Examiner, "Stay-at-home orders in North Carolina spark gun-rights debate," 3 Apr. 2020 Politics and pistols Wyatt Earp developed a professional rivalry with a fellow politician, Johnny Behan. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 26 Mar. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for pistol

Time Traveler

The first known use of pistol was circa 1560

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Statistics for pistol

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pistol.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pistol. Accessed 30 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for pistol


How to pronounce pistol (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pistol

: a small gun made to be aimed and fired with one hand
US, informal : a person who has a lot of energy and spirit


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

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