small arm


Definition of small arm

: a handheld firearm (such as a handgun or shoulder arm) usually used in plural

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for small arm


arm, firearm, gun, heat [slang], piece

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of small arm in a Sentence

the soldiers keep their small arms securely in their holsters when not on patrol

Recent Examples on the Web

After about 30 minutes the American inflatable broke through the circle of fishing boats as sailors fired shots with their small arms, and returned to the destroyer, where Ji-Hoon Kim, one of the speedboat’s crew, was reported missing. The Economist, "China crisis: October 2020," 4 July 2019 The Next Generation Squad Weapon, which will arm infantry and other ground troops, will incorporate new technologies never brought to the field of small arms before, including target tracking, facial recognition, and hydrophobic coatings for lenses. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Army’s New Rifle Comes With Tech Found in Tanks and iPhones," 3 June 2019 But across the bridge that spans the small arm of the Senegal River, in the poorer neighborhoods on the Langue de Barbarie, coastal erosion is an immediate threat. Aurelien Breeden, New York Times, "‘Wrath of Coastal Erosion’ Is Devouring a Senegal Fishing Hub," 23 May 2018 Both men died from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations in the Uruzgan Province supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Fox News, "Military identifies 2 soldiers killed in Afghanistan this week," 27 June 2019 Those who admitted to planning attacks described them as involving small, improvised bombs or small arms, which was consistent with the charges brought by Bahraini authorities. Souad Mekhennet, Washington Post, "In Bahrain, a smoldering insurgency reveals the resilience of Iran’s proxy war," 18 May 2018 In recent years Kalashnikov has expanded beyond the world of small arms into new weapons systems and even civilian vehicles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Kalashnikov Is Getting into the Business of Self-Destructing Drones," 20 Feb. 2019 North Korea also attempted to sell small arms and light weapons and other military equipment via foreign intermediaries, including Syrian arms traffickers in the case of Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen as well as Libya and Sudan, the report said. Fox News, "Russia holds up release of report on North Korea sanctions," 30 Aug. 2018 After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Army inherited large stocks of small arms, and has coasted on that inventory ever since. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Meet the Chukavin, Russia’s New Sniper Rifle," 6 Dec. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of small arm

1674, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about small arm

Statistics for small arm

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for small arm

The first known use of small arm was in 1674

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on small arm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for small arm Encyclopedia article about small arm

Comments on small arm

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


to make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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