Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A relatively short cannon that delivers shells at a medium muzzle velocity, usually by a high trajectory.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A short piece of ordnance, usually having a hemispherical chamber for the powder narrower than the bore, specially designed for the horizontal firing of shells with small charges, and combining in some degree the accuracy of the cannon with the caliber of the mortar, but more portable than either.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A gun so short that the projectile, which was hollow, could be put in its place by hand; a kind of mortar.
  • noun A short, light, largebore cannon, usually having a chamber of smaller diameter than the rest of the bore, and intended to throw large projectiles with comparatively small charges.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A cannon that combines certain characteristics of guns and mortars. The howitzer delivers projectiles with medium velocities, either by low or high trajectories. JP 1-02.
  • noun Normally a cannon with a tube length of 20 to 30 calibers; however, the tube length can exceed 30 calibers and still be considered a howitzer when the high angle fire zoning solution permits range overlap between charges. JP 1-02. See also gun; mortar.
  • noun sports, rugby, ice hockey A powerfully hit shot.

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

  • noun a muzzle-loading high-angle gun with a short barrel that fires shells at high elevations for a short range

Etymologies

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

[Dutch houwitser, from German Haubitze, alteration of obsolete haufnitz, catapult, from Old Czech haufnice, probably from haufný, catapult that slung many stones at once : hauf, group, heap (probably from Middle High German hūfe, from Old High German hūfo) + -ný, n. suff.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Dutch houwitser (see Wikipedia for further etymology).

Examples

Comments

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  • This term always sounded very modern to my ears—20th century at least—but it was used in the late 18th-early 19th centuries.

    Edit: checked etymology in the OED: "A deriv. of prec.; the same suffix appears in Du. houwitser (in 1663 houvietser), Fr. obusier for earlier obus (see Hatz.-Darm.)." So I guess it was originally a seventeenth-century term.

    October 9, 2008

  • This word also sounds like the name of a sandwich.

    March 26, 2009

  • ... a great sandwich...

    March 26, 2009

  • A sandwich with hot sauce. :-)

    March 26, 2009