from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A weapon consisting of a metal tube from which a projectile is fired at high velocity into a relatively flat trajectory.
  • n. A cannon with a long barrel and a relatively low angle of fire.
  • n. A portable firearm, such as a rifle or revolver.
  • n. A device resembling a firearm or cannon, as in its ability to project something, such as grease, under pressure or at great speed.
  • n. A discharge of a firearm or cannon as a signal or salute.
  • n. One, such as a hunter, who carries or uses a gun.
  • n. A person skilled in the use of a gun.
  • n. A professional killer: a hired gun.
  • n. The throttle of an engine, as of an automobile.
  • transitive v. To shoot (a person): a bank robber who was gunned down by the police.
  • transitive v. To open the throttle of (an engine) so as to accelerate: gunned the engine and sped off.
  • transitive v. Maine To hunt (game).
  • intransitive v. To hunt with a gun.
  • gun for To pursue relentlessly so as to overcome or destroy.
  • gun for To go after in earnest; set out to obtain: gunning for a promotion.
  • idiom go great guns To proceed or perform with great speed, skill, or success.
  • idiom hold a gun to (someone's) head To put pressure on someone.
  • idiom under the gun Under great pressure or under threat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A very portable, short firearm, for hand use, which fires bullets or projectiles, such as a handgun, revolver, pistol, or Derringer.
  • n. A less portable, long firearm, bullet or projectile firing; a rifle, either manual, automatic or semi-automatic; a musket or shotgun.
  • n. Any implement designed to fire a projectile from a tube, even if it is not a firearm, e.g., air-pressure pellet gun, air rifle, BB gun, zipgun; a home-made firearm such as a potato gun.
  • n. Any device or tool that projects a substance in a superficially similar fashion to a firearm, e.g., nail gun, squirt gun, spray gun, grease gun.
  • n. A device or tool shaped like a pistol and operated in similar fashion by pulling a trigger with the index finger, e.g., rivet gun, screw gun, price-label gun.
  • n. A long surfboard designed for surfing big waves (not the same as a longboard, a gun has a pointed nose and is generally a little narrower).
  • n. A pattern that "fires" out other patterns.
  • n. A man who carries or uses a rifle, shotgun or handgun.
  • n. The biceps.
  • v. To shoot someone or something, usually with a firearm.
  • v. To speed something up.
  • v. To offer vigorous support to a person or cause.
  • v. To seek to attack someone; to take aim at someone.
  • v. To practice fowling or hunting small game; chiefly in participial form: to go gunning.
  • v. A verb used to express future action.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A weapon which throws or propels a missile to a distance; any firearm or instrument for throwing projectiles, consisting of a tube or barrel closed at one end, in which the projectile is placed, with an explosive charge (such as guncotton or gunpowder) behind, which is ignited by various means. Pistols, rifles, carbines, muskets, and fowling pieces are smaller guns, for hand use, and are called small arms. Larger guns are called cannon, ordnance, fieldpieces, carronades, howitzers, etc. See these terms in the Vocabulary.
  • n. A piece of heavy ordnance; in a restricted sense, a cannon.
  • n. Violent blasts of wind.
  • intransitive v. To practice fowling or hunting small game; -- chiefly in participial form.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To shoot with a gun; practise shooting, especially the smaller kinds of game.
  • Past participle of gin.
  • In forestry, to aim (a tree) in felling it.
  • n. A military engine of the mangonel or catapult kind, used for throwing stones.
  • n. A metallic tube or tubular barrel, with its stock or carriage and attachments, from which missiles are thrown, as by the explosive force of gunpowder or other explosive placed behind them at the closed end of the tube, and ignited through a small hole or vent; in general, any firearm except the pistol and the mortar.
  • n. Specifically, a comparatively long cannon used for obtaining high velocities with low trajectories, as distinguished from a howitzer or a mortar.
  • n. In hunting, one who carries a gun; a member of a shooting-party.
  • n. A tall cylindrical jug in use in the north of England.
  • n. In plate glass manufacturing, a device for fixing the breadth of the plate.
  • n. Its principal peculiarities are the unbroken smoothness of its surface and the relation of its thickness at all points (determined by experiment) to the pressure in firing. Of all large smooth-bore guns, it is, not excepting the 15-inch Rodman gun, the most easily handled. The Dahlgren and Rodman 15-inch guns are equal as to accuracy and efficiency.
  • n. A person of distinction or importance: more commonly called a big gun.
  • n. A single-loading small-arm, caliber 0”.408, used in the Italian army.
  • n. A magazine bolt-gun used in the Italian and Swiss armies.
  • n. A professional criminal; a thief; a pickpocket.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the discharge of a firearm as signal or as a salute in military ceremonies
  • n. a hand-operated pump that resembles a revolver; forces grease into parts of a machine
  • n. a pedal that controls the throttle valve
  • v. shoot with a gun
  • n. a person who shoots a gun (as regards their ability)
  • n. a weapon that discharges a missile at high velocity (especially from a metal tube or barrel)
  • n. large but transportable armament
  • n. a professional killer who uses a gun


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English gonne, cannon, short for Gunilda, woman's name applied to a siege engine, from Old Norse Gunnhildr, woman's name : gunnr, war; see gwhen- in Indo-European roots + hildr, war.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English Lady Gunilda which was a huge crossbow that used powerful shot. It later became used for firearms like cannons and muskets. The Germanic woman’s name “Gundahild” , cognate to modern Scandinavian Gunhild, means “war" + "battle maid”.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From gunna, from gonna, from going to



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  • A flagon for ale. --old term from the north of England. --Grose's A Provincial Glossary, 1787. Cf. Century Dictionary, definition 9.

    May 7, 2011

  • Surveyors refer to their Transits as guns, most likely because they point and observe (shoot) lines to points.

    March 27, 2009