torpedo

noun
tor·​pe·​do | \ tȯr-ˈpē-(ˌ)dō \
plural torpedoes

Definition of torpedo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a weapon for destroying ships by rupturing their hulls below the waterline: such as
a : a submarine mine
b : a thin cylindrical self-propelled underwater projectile
2 : a small firework that explodes when thrown against a hard object
4 : a professional gunman or assassin

torpedo

verb
torpedoed; torpedoing\ tȯr-​ˈpē-​də-​wiŋ \

Definition of torpedo (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to hit or sink (a ship) with a naval torpedo : strike or destroy by torpedo
2 : to destroy or nullify altogether : wreck torpedo a plan

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Did You Know?

Noun

Like the adjective "torpid," "torpedo" can be traced back to the Latin verb torpēre, meaning "to be sluggish or numb." In Latin torpedo referred to stiffness or numbness, and also to the crampfish or electric ray. "Torpedo" first entered English as a name for the electric ray. During the Napoleonic Wars, the American inventor Robert Fulton experimented with an explosive charge for use against warships which he called a "torpedo" (and which we would now refer to as a mine), after the electric ray's ability to incapacitate creatures it comes in contact with. Fulton was also the inventor of the "Nautilus," an early hand-powered submarine which was one of the precursors of the vessels that would deliver the more familiar cigar-shaped torpedoes with such devastating effects during the 20th century's two World Wars.

Examples of torpedo in a Sentence

Noun

The battleship was sunk by a torpedo fired by a submarine. that deli's torpedoes are big enough to serve two people

Verb

The submarine torpedoed the battleship. Her injury torpedoed her goal of competing in the Olympics.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

One of the prosecution’s star witnesses was the submarine commander, Mochitsura Hashimoto, who fired the torpedoes that sent Indy to the bottom of the Philippine Sea in 12 minutes. Tony Perry, latimes.com, "A secret mission, torpedoes, sharks and the men who survived: The story of the 'Indianapolis'," 6 July 2018 Hardegen and his crew fired torpedoes at the Coimbra, a British tanker ship carrying oil off the coast of Long Island. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, "Reinhard Hardegen, U-boat commander who menaced American shores, dies at 105," 18 June 2018 In 2010, a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo at a South Korean naval ship, killing 46 sailors. Jim Michaels, USA TODAY, "From nukes to U.S. troops: The 5 key obstacles to peace with North Korea," 23 Apr. 2018 During this year's exercise, the U.S. subs fired training torpedoes — without warheads and carrying minimal fuel — later recovered by divers from the frigid waters, according to a U.S. Navy press release. Laurel Andrews, Anchorage Daily News, "Man struck in head by plane during Navy training exercise in the frozen Arctic Ocean," 28 Mar. 2018 Aside from Aquaman’s first appearance, swimming underwater at the speed of a torpedo, his powers remain only a minor part of the story. Noel Murray, The Verge, "This weekend, stream a different version of Aquaman from home," 21 Dec. 2018 The Navy wouldn’t say where the unarmed torpedo was fired from, according to the article, sent to The Times by state research archivist Benjamin Helle. Asia Fields, The Seattle Times, "Navy says mystery mine found off Bainbridge Island was from 2005 exercise," 31 Aug. 2018 Cephalopod is armed with MTT 324-millimeter lightweight torpedoes. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia Working on New 'Cephalopod' Underwater Attack Drone," 30 July 2018 During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Emory managed to fire a few rounds at the airplanes that dropped the torpedoes. Washington Post, "Sailors honor Pearl Harbor survivor during one last visit," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Hart was wrong, and the ensuing scandal torpedoed his political career. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "The Front Runner's Sara Paxton on Playing Donna Rice and the Unfathomable Glare of Political Scandal," 6 Nov. 2018 The surprise debts, which would have significantly increased the purchase price of the assets, torpedoed negotiations, said the knowledgeable people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. David Ng, latimes.com, "Weinstein Co. deal collapses in yet another twist, pushing studio closer to bankruptcy," 7 Mar. 2018 Photo: Getty The summit planning represents an effort on both sides to keep a deepening trade dispute from torpedoing the U.S.-China relationship and further shaking global markets. Bob Davis, WSJ, "Trump and Xi Plan to Meet Amid Trade Tension," 11 Oct. 2018 Democrats and Republicans will burn tens of millions of dollars in a campaign to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh or torpedo his nomination. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Republicans, Democrats look to use Kavanaugh nomination as weapon in midterm fight," 21 July 2018 In blow to Speaker Ryan, conservatives torpedo farm bill and put immigration front and center If the discharge petition gets enough signatures, there would be votes on four bills. Eliza Collins, USA TODAY, "As the clock ticks, House GOP leaders scramble to find a compromise on immigration," 6 June 2018 Trump has sided with Mr. Lighthizer on tariffs, even when that has torpedoed talks with the Chinese. Bob Davis, WSJ, "Trump and Xi Plan to Meet Amid Trade Tension," 11 Oct. 2018 The suicidal pilot disabled communications on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, took a final pass over his hometown, then torpedoed the Boeing 777 into the Indian Ocean, experts insisted. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Investigators insist MH370 crash was an accident, not a mass murder-suicide by pilot," 22 May 2018 The president blamed Democrats for torpedoing Jackson’s nominations with smears against his character and for using delaying tactics to postpone appointment of nominees for other offices. Jeremy C. Fox, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump sounds off on Justice Department, ‘Doc Ronny’ and Stormy Daniels in ‘Fox & Friends’ appearance," 26 Apr. 2018

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

Noun

circa 1520, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb

circa 1879, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for torpedo

Noun

Latin, literally, stiffness, numbness, from torpēre to be sluggish or numb — more at torpid

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Statistics for torpedo

Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for torpedo

The first known use of torpedo was circa 1520

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More Definitions for torpedo

torpedo

noun

English Language Learners Definition of torpedo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a bomb that is shaped like a tube and that is fired underwater

torpedo

verb

English Language Learners Definition of torpedo (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hit or sink (a ship) with a torpedo

: to destroy or stop (something) completely

torpedo

noun
tor·​pe·​do | \ tȯr-ˈpē-dō \
plural torpedoes

Kids Definition of torpedo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a long narrow self-propelled underwater weapon used for blowing up ships

torpedo

verb
torpedoed; torpedoing

Kids Definition of torpedo (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hit with or destroy by a torpedo

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