torpedo

noun
tor·​pe·​do | \ tȯr-ˈpē-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce torpedo (audio) \
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 How to pronounce torpedoing (audio) \

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

In late July 1945, the Indianapolis, with almost 1,200 men aboard, delivered the components of the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima and was en route to the Philippines when the torpedoes struck. John Anderson, WSJ, "‘USS Indianapolis: The Final Chapter’ Review: The Depths of Tragedy," 3 Jan. 2019 She was sunk by torpedoes and bombs from planes launches from four U.S. carriers. Matthew Moss, Popular Mechanics, "How the American Aircraft Carrier Became King of the Seas," 22 May 2018 In addition to the torpedoes, South Dakota packs a powerful cruise missile punch. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Come Take a Tour of America's Newest Nuclear Submarine," 7 Jan. 2019 The service restarted production of the Mk 48 torpedo mod 7 in 2016. Kris Osborn, Fox News, "Navy pursues new stealthy heavyweight attack torpedo," 10 Sep. 2018 There was also one called the Kettering Bug, which is sometimes called an aerial torpedo. Angela Chen, The Verge, "A retired Navy captain explains how drones will shape the future of war," 5 Dec. 2018 Imagine walking to Worf’s tactical station on the Bridge, pressing buttons on his control panel and firing torpedoes or sitting in Data’s chair at the helm console and taking the ship into warp! Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Amazing NCC-1701-D simulator issues final command: “all stop”," 28 Sep. 2018 Subs can dive and surface, and fire torpedoes from stealth. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "World of Warships dives deep for new players, adding submarines to popular naval combat game," 18 Sep. 2018 Saba’s torpedo-like instrument is actually an underwater drone, known as a Slocum glider, that is carrying an ocean acidity sensor. Eric Niiler, National Geographic, "The Ocean Is Getting More Acidic—What That Actually Means," 15 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The tensions have already torpedoed talks between senior officials in Ottawa and Beijing about deeper trade ties. ... Kim Mackrael, WSJ, "China Restricts Canadian Grain Processor Amid Diplomatic Tensions," 5 Mar. 2019 Already in 2005, when becoming House speaker was still a hope rather than a reality, Pelosi played a central role in torpedoing efforts by George W. Bush to try partially privatizing Social Security. T.a. Frank, The Hive, "In Defense of Nancy Pelosi," 18 Mar. 2018 Though Russia is not comfortable with the extent of Iran's influence in Syria, Mr Putin is not ready to torpedo relations with Tehran. The Economist, "Vladimir Putin’s hopes for his long-awaited meeting with Donald Trump," 14 July 2018 Kavanaugh had been considered a frontrunner, but his fortunes may be torpedoed by Trump’s grudges. Philip Elliott, Time, "Inside Donald Trump's Supreme Court Deliberations," 9 July 2018 President Trump, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell torpedoed the bipartisan effort to pass healthcare, Senator Tim Kaine says. Bloomberg.com, "Bipartisan Health-Care Bill Basics Were ’Torpedoed,’ Kaine Says," 21 Sep. 2017 Eakes was killed in action while serving onboard USS Oklahoma, when it was torpedoed on Dec 7, 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "Pearl Harbor victim reburied decades after being killed in attack," 21 June 2018 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

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

24 Mar 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
somewhat informal : to destroy or stop (something) completely

torpedo

noun
tor·​pe·​do | \ tȯr-ˈpē-dō How to pronounce torpedo (audio) \
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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