1

torpedo

play
noun tor·pe·do \tȯr-ˈpē-(ˌ)dō\

Definition of torpedo

plural

torpedoes

  1. 1 :  a weapon for destroying ships by rupturing their hulls below the waterline: such asa :  a submarine mineb :  a thin cylindrical self-propelled underwater projectile

  2. 2 :  a small firework that explodes when thrown against a hard object

  3. 3 :  electric ray

  4. 4 :  a professional gunman or assassin

  5. 5 :  submarine 2

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Examples of torpedo in a Sentence

  1. The battleship was sunk by a torpedo fired by a submarine.

  2. that deli's torpedoes are big enough to serve two people

Recent Examples of torpedo from the Web

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.

Did You Know?

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.

Origin and Etymology of torpedo

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


2

torpedo

verb tor·pe·do

Definition of torpedo

torpedoed

;

torpedoing

\-ˈpē-də-wiŋ\
  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to hit or sink (a ship) with a naval torpedo :  strike or destroy by torpedo

  3. 2 :  to destroy or nullify altogether :  wreck torpedo a plan

Examples of torpedo in a Sentence

  1. The submarine torpedoed the battleship.

  2. Her injury torpedoed her goal of competing in the Olympics.

First Known Use of torpedo

circa 1879


TORPEDO Defined for English Language Learners

torpedo

play
noun

Definition of torpedo for English Language Learners

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

torpedo

verb

Definition of torpedo for English Language Learners

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

  • : to destroy or stop (something) completely


TORPEDO Defined for Kids

1

torpedo

play
noun tor·pe·do \tȯr-ˈpē-dō\

Definition of torpedo for Students

plural

torpedoes

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

History for torpedo

In 1776, David Bushnell, a supporter of the American cause in the Revolutionary War, built a wooden submarine with a detachable container of gunpowder that could be hooked to an enemy ship and set to explode after the submarine steered clear. Bushnell is believed to have dubbed the container with the Latin word torpedo, “electric ray,” that is, a fish that delivers an electric shock. Though Bushnell's submarine and explosive device never damaged a British vessel, the name torpedo was later applied to modern weapons used to attack ships.


2

torpedo

play
verb tor·pe·do

Definition of torpedo for Students

torpedoed

;

torpedoing

  1. :  to hit with or destroy by a torpedo



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