pro·​jec·​tile | \ prə-ˈjek-tᵊl How to pronounce projectile (audio) , -ˌtī(-ə)l, chiefly British ˈprä-jik-ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce projectile (audio) \

Definition of projectile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a body projected by external force and continuing in motion by its own inertia especially : a missile for a weapon (such as a firearm)
2 : a self-propelling weapon (such as a rocket)



Definition of projectile (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : projecting or impelling forward a projectile force
2 : capable of being thrust forward

Examples of projectile in a Sentence

Noun The cannon fires a ten-pound projectile. Someone threw a projectile at her car.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That’s not the case here, this load has been tuned–from the primer to the projectile—to deliver optimum MSR performance. Richard Mann, Field & Stream, "The 6 Best Big-Game Loads for the .308 Winchester," 25 Dec. 2020 The projectile struck below her left eye, fractured her cheek bone, and has resulted in recurring problems with her vision, the suit says. Randy Furst, Star Tribune, "College student sues city of Minneapolis over eye injury from projectile during Floyd protests," 15 Sep. 2020 The city of Minneapolis has settled the first lawsuit by a demonstrator injured by a police projectile in the aftermath of George Floyd's death. Randy Furst, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis settles first lawsuit against police stemming from Floyd protests," 26 Jan. 2021 In order to collect a sample of the asteroid, Hayabusa-2 fired a small projectile at Ryugu's surface and then collected the debris kicked up by the impact. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "A Spacecraft Is Going to Punch an Asteroid Tonight. Here's How to Watch.," 20 Oct. 2020 The eye surgeons who operated on Gonzalez said his injuries were consistent with his being struck by a projectile. Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times, "Calls to restrict police use of projectiles on crowds renewed after latest L.A. injuries," 20 Oct. 2020 Brake's eye was ruptured and his face was fractured in four places after an unidentified officer from the Fort Wayne Police Department fired the projectile at him, according to the complaint. Johnny Magdaleno, The Indianapolis Star, "Man who lost eye after officer fired tear gas cannister into his face sues Fort Wayne," 3 Oct. 2020 The Journal newsroom could be a place of foul language and the occasional flying projectile as deadlines approached and tempers flared. Bill Rankin, ajc, "Remembering Herb Steely, the soul of The Atlanta Journal," 31 Dec. 2020 The railgun spits out the projectile at a speed of 4,474 miles per hour, or 1.2 miles per second. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy Is Firing a Mysterious Weapon Today. It Sure Sounds Like a Railgun.," 1 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective These creatures roamed Mesolithic Doggerland, and experiments by modern archaeologists have shown their bones make excellent projectile weapons. Bridget Alex, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ancient European Hunters Carved Human Bones Into Weapons," 21 Dec. 2020 Already, the city is being sued by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and the National Lawyers Guild in a major lawsuit that seeks class status for thousands of protesters and also aims to ban projectile weapons at future protests. Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times, "Sidelined from protests after an injury, L.A. man sues to ban police projectiles," 9 Dec. 2020 But earlier this month Kosmos 2543 itself disgorged a new object from its body that the U.S. Space Force judged to be some sort of projectile weapon which, firing under its own tiny engine power, could easily be used to destroy another satellite. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "The ultimate high ground: Russia and US try to set rules for space weapons," 29 July 2020 In the past two weeks, various law enforcement agencies have used many non-projectile and nonchemical tools, including batons, helicopters, riot shields and even horses, to attempt to control unrest. Anchorage Daily News, "A guide to the less-lethal weapons that law enforcement uses against protesters," 7 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'projectile.' 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 projectile


1564, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1715, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for projectile

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The first known use of projectile was in 1564

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Statistics for projectile

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Projectile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for projectile



English Language Learners Definition of projectile

: something (such as a bullet or rocket) that is shot from a weapon
: something (such as a rock) that is thrown as a weapon


pro·​jec·​tile | \ prə-ˈjek-təl How to pronounce projectile (audio) \

Kids Definition of projectile

: something (as a bullet or rocket) thrown or shot especially from a weapon

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