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

The Lexington was deliberately sunk by the U.S. Navy after being struck by Japanese torpedoes and bombs during the battle. Matthew Diebel, USA TODAY, "Wreckage of aircraft carrier, USS Lexington, sunk in WWII found in Pacific," 6 Mar. 2018 Later that day, while heading to a nearby island for repairs, a Japanese submarine launched two torpedoes, which hit the Juneau. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Wreck of U.S.S. Juneau Discovered in the Solomon Islands," 22 Mar. 2018 There is definitely a resemblance, though torpedoes do not typically have wings. Michael Mcgough, sacbee, "Tahoe deputies help find missing UC Davis research robot that resembles torpedo," 4 June 2018 But Kaibab is a torpedo, launching from the rim and chasing a ridgeline down and out across the Canyon. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "10 best hikes in Arizona show off state's diverse scenery," 13 July 2018 Which brings us back to motivation, and the reality that even a damn-the-torpedoes offer might not be enough to equal the Celtics second or third-best potential offer. David Murphy, Philly.com, "Kawhi Leonard trade sweepstakes may get too steep for Sixers if Lakers, Celtics make best offers | David Murphy," 28 June 2018 With no prior warning, UB-29 fired a torpedo from 1,400 yards, tearing off the ferry’s bow. Joshua Levine, Smithsonian, "The Hunt for the Notorious U-Boat UB-29," 19 Apr. 2018 Marsha Ginsberg’s scenic design is dominated by the production’s most effective visual element: a gunmetal-gray, rotating carnival ride with five torpedo-like cars painted with grinning shark faces. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "‘Peter Pan’ Review: A Modern Neverland," 11 July 2018 Shortly after finding the Lexington, Allen’s team found the wreck of the USS Juneau, which was sunk by a Japanese torpedo with the loss of 687 sailors in 1942. James Rogers, Fox News, "Wreck of WWII ship discovered 74 years after it disappeared during a rescue mission," 25 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 For the past month, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Seehofer, whose party is a partner in Merkel's governing coalition, have been embroiled in a debate about Germany’s migration policy that nearly torpedoed her government. Luisa Beck, Washington Post, "German leader revels in deportations in a week when a refugee sent back to Kabul apparently hanged himself," 11 July 2018 How rising home values could torpedo your retirement plans Will Dallas-Fort Worth's rapid growth turn it into the next Los Angeles? Gordon Dickson And Nicholas Sakelaris, star-telegram, "Priced out of their home? North Texans see tax bill rise $1,200 in five years," 6 July 2018 Clinton supporters believe Comey's actions, far from hurting Trump, may well have torpedoed her chance of becoming president. chicagotribune.com, "Trump says FBI was 'plotting against' me, casts doubt on potential Mueller interview," 15 June 2018 Clinton supporters believe Comey’s actions, far from hurting Trump, may well have torpedoed her chance of becoming president. Anne Flaherty, Time, "Trump Still Says the FBI Was 'Plotting Against My Election'," 15 June 2018 In the end, Perry’s own career staff torpedoed his preordained conclusions. Basav Sen, Fortune, "Trump Thinks Propping Up Failing Coal Is a ‘National Security’ Emergency," 31 May 2018 At the same time, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, a multimillionaire who can finance his own campaigns, entered the race against Senator Bill Nelson, and Republicans torpedoed the coal magnate and ex-convict Don Blankenship in West Virginia. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "Senate Republicans Are Newly Hopeful About the Midterms. For Good Reason.," 2 June 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

20 Oct 2018

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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