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 What the gardens' design signifies When the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, one torpedo and eight bombs hit the USS Arizona, causing an explosion that killed 1,177 of the 1,512 crew members. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, "'Their light will continue to go on': USS Arizona memorial near Phoenix honors veterans," 11 Nov. 2020 Gilmore sank one Japanese freighter and damaged another by torpedo fire, successfully evading severe depth charges following each attack. Drew Broach | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "On Veterans Day, meet all 26 of Louisiana's Medal of Honor recipients," 10 Nov. 2020 The capsule module includes a Mark (Mk.) 54 lightweight hybrid homing torpedo. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Ambush! The Navy’s New Hammerhead Mine is a Submarine Killer," 23 Oct. 2020 Celaya was sleeping on the ship’s top deck when the first torpedo hit. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "See 12 Stunning Portraits of World War II Veterans," 31 Aug. 2020 The use of the supersonic missile extends the range of the torpedo far beyond its normal parameters, the ministry said. Brad Lendon, CNN, "India tests missile that launches a torpedo hundreds of miles away," 6 Oct. 2020 Or the commander of one of the other subs could have decided to launch a torpedo. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, "The Day Nuclear War Almost Broke Out," 5 Oct. 2020 Wartime wrecks in the waters off Florida continued, including the sinking of the oil tanker Gulfamerica by a torpedo from a German U-boat in April 1942. Joy Wallace Dickinson, orlandosentinel.com, "Head-turning crane spurs dive into shipwreck history," 4 Oct. 2020 Tora!, in which Miller takes up a machine gun to engage Japanese dive and torpedo bombers. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "For the First Time, the Navy Names Its New Carrier After a Black Sailor," 30 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Democrats produced campaign ads claiming Trump had chosen Barrett to torpedo the ACA. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Affordable Care Act challenge before Supreme Court could strip insurance from millions," 9 Nov. 2020 Nevertheless, Trump failed in his mad gambit to use Hunter Biden to torpedo his father’s ambitions. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "The Tragedy of Joe Biden’s Triumph," 7 Nov. 2020 In that dramatic episode, Mayer, Thalberg and Hearst set out to torpedo the Democratic candidate Upton Sinclair (a nice cameo by Bill Nye), decrying his socialist views using phony newsreels: fake news avant la lettre. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Mank’ is a gorgeous dive into film history — and a sharp reflection on our political present," 6 Nov. 2020 Named after Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, the Lincoln Project is not actively trying to torpedo down-ballot Texas Republicans, even though most of them are in lockstep with Trump. Dallas News, "Lincoln Project won’t shed tears if MJ Hegar beats John Cornyn, co-founder says," 26 Oct. 2020 The infection numbers are bad, but the big metric to watch is hospitalizations and deaths, two ominous lagging indicators that have the power to torpedo economic recovery, particularly as curfews and regional lockdown measures are enacted. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Earnings were supposed to lift the markets. What happened?," 16 Oct. 2020 Why would Trump choose this, of all moments, to torpedo economic policy? Arkansas Online, "PAUL KRUGMAN: Trump is ruining economy out of spite," 10 Oct. 2020 Another positive test result inside the Titans could torpedo these plans. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The NFL Scrambles to Flatten Its Curve—and Schedule," 9 Oct. 2020 DeConcini helped torpedo Robert Bork's 1987 nomination and helped confirm Clarence Thomas in 1991. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, "McSally, Ducey hail Trump Supreme Court pick of Amy Coney Barrett; others have misgivings," 26 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for torpedo

Time Traveler

The first known use of torpedo was circa 1520

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Statistics for torpedo

Last Updated

18 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Torpedo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torpedo. Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for torpedo

torpedo

noun
How to pronounce torpedo (audio)

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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Comments on torpedo

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