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

Synonyms for pistol


dynamo, fireball, live wire

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Examples of pistol in a Sentence

a real pistol, she dances rings around the other performers

Recent Examples on the Web

But a witness emerged in late 2016 who linked Patterson to the killings and the 9mm pistol used to gun down the three men. David Owens, courant.com, "Hartford man pleads guilty to killing third man in 2008," 4 Sep. 2019 Agents later determined the pistol had a serial number on it. Jeff Pegues, CBS News, "West Virginia man sentenced for stealing firearms from ATF," 27 Aug. 2019 Reitz fired at the backpack with a 9 mm pistol and with a .45-caliber handgun. NBC News, "Bulletproof backpacks wouldn't have saved anyone in recent shootings," 21 Aug. 2019 Detectives often recover ghost guns, particularly in the form of semi-automatic 9mm pistols, at various scenes of criminal activity, according to the LAPD. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Ex-convict used an untraceable 'ghost gun' in deadly shootout with police in Riverside," 15 Aug. 2019 Peak said the loaded semi-automatic pistol was in an office. Pauline Repard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Chula Vista police raid illegally pot dispensary, arrest 4," 2 Aug. 2019 In the real world, even low-power .45 ammo reaches 800 fps or more, and the 9mm pistols used by the Germans had far greater penetration—as did all the rifle and machine-gun bullets tearing across No Man's Land. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Century-Long Evolution of the U.S. Army Helmet," 27 June 2019 Police took the 9 mm pistol and Barber’s backpack and transported him to UAB for medical attention. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al.com, "Birmingham teen convicted of misdemeanor in fatal shooting of Huffman classmate Courtlin Arrington," 13 June 2019 As the younger brother held a 9mm pistol, Grandzol willingly handed over his wallet, authorities said. Julie Shaw, Philly.com, "Attorney for teen in Grandzol slaying no longer seeking to move case to juvenile court," 18 June 2018

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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Statistics for pistol

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for pistol

The first known use of pistol was circa 1560

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More Definitions for pistol



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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More from Merriam-Webster on pistol

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pistol

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pistol

Spanish Central: Translation of pistol

Nglish: Translation of pistol for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pistol for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pistol

Comments on pistol

What made you want to look up pistol? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make a temporary encampment

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