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

The ship sustained multiple torpedo hits and quickly capsized, which resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Emily Sweeney, BostonGlobe.com, "Remains identified as Palmer, Mass., man killed in attack on Pearl Harbor," 13 June 2019 Under attack from Japanese aircraft, the USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize on Dec. 7, 1941. Julia Rentsch, The Denver Post, "Remains of Berthoud man killed at Pearl Harbor during World War II identified at last," 7 June 2019 Yeah, this tent is buggy and the air mattress is slowly deflating, but at least there’s not a torpedo right next to me. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "U-505 submarine gets a makeover and new exhibit for 75th anniversary at MSI," 3 June 2019 Many of the ship’s weapons, particularly the anti-submarine torpedoes, were offloaded before the ship was raised. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Norway’s Ruined Frigate Is Afloat Again and It Doesn't Look Good," 15 Apr. 2019 Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad told a news conference Thursday that the navy also plans to acquire torpedoes, submarines and other major defense equipment under a modernization program. Washington Post, "Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea," 15 May 2018 Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad told a news conference Thursday that the navy also plans to acquire torpedoes, submarines and other major defense equipment under a modernization program. Christopher Bodeen, Fox News, "Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea," 14 May 2018 In 1957, a 15-foot Navy torpedo flew out of the water and hit the Bainbridge Island shed of shipyard worker George Munro, the father of then-future Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro, The Times then reported. Asia Fields, The Seattle Times, "Navy says mystery mine found off Bainbridge Island was from 2005 exercise," 31 Aug. 2018 On the evening of February 5, Tuscania was seven miles southwest of Islay when it was struck squarely mid-ship on the starboard side by a 2,000-pound torpedo launched by the German submarine UB-77. Richard Kurin, Smithsonian, "A Hundred-Year-Old Handmade American Flag Flies Home… to Scotland," 30 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The surest way to torpedo support for a program inside the agency is to take funding from someone else to pay for the new plan, and the surest way to lose support in Congress is to take work away from various field centers around the country. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA faces “hard decisions” with its budget to pay for Artemis [Updated]," 3 June 2019 Likethumb_up2 Replyreply Linklink Copy Reportflag crackediphone 2 hours ago Put her on a barge and torpedo it. Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, "Video shows mom injecting child with liquid that could’ve killed him, search warrant says," 1 May 2018 Comparison engines such as Expedia and Booking Holdings BKNG 1.43% have torpedoed traditional travel agencies, while budget airlines with online booking portals have driven down airfares. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "The Odd Case of the Do-It-All Tour Operators," 29 Nov. 2018 Attorneys negotiated the $21 million price reduction after disputes threatened to torpedo the deal. Washington Post, "Judge approves revised Weinstein Co. bankruptcy sale plan," 11 July 2018 McCain might relish a chance to torpedo Trump's CIA nominee as well. Chris Megerian, latimes.com, "John McCain was tortured as a POW in Vietnam. Will he help sink CIA nominee implicated in torture program?," 19 Apr. 2018 Haspel and her backers in the intelligence community must overcome deep skepticism among many senators about her record, in particular concerns about her role in Bush-era torture policies that threaten to torpedo her nomination. Liz Goodwin, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump CIA pick faces rocky confirmation over torture role," 17 Apr. 2018 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

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

16 Jun 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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