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

  • noun A firearm designed to be held and fired with one hand.
  • noun Slang A rowdy or rambunctious person, especially a child.
  • transitive verb To shoot with a pistol.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To shoot with a pistol.
  • noun A firearm intended to be held in one hand when aimed and fired.

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

  • noun The smallest firearm used, intended to be fired from one hand, -- now of many patterns, and bearing a great variety of names. See Illust. of revolver.
  • noun a firearm with a removable but-piece, and thus capable of being used either as a pistol or a carbine.
  • noun (Metal.) a pipe in which the blast for a furnace is heated, resembling a pistol in form.
  • noun The distance to which a pistol can propel a ball.
  • transitive verb To shoot with a pistol.

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

  • noun A handgun, typically with a chamber integrated in the barrel, a semi-automatic action and a box magazine.
  • noun The mechanical component of a fuse in a bomb or torpedo responsible for firing the detonator.
  • noun Shakespeare A creative and unpredictable jokester, a constant source of entertainment and surprises.
  • noun southern US A small boy who is bright, alert and very active.
  • noun American football A play formation in which the quarterback is a few feet behind the center when the ball is snapped, but closer than in a shotgun formation, with a running back a few feet behind him.
  • verb transitive To shoot (at) a target with a pistol.

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

  • noun a firearm that is held and fired with one hand


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

[French pistole, from German, from Middle High German pischulle, from Czech píšt'ala, pipe, whistle, firearm, from pištěti, to whistle, of imitative origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Probably from Middle French pistole, plausibly from German Pistole, from Czech píšťala ("firearm", literally "tube, pipe"), from pištěti ("to whistle"), of imitative origin, related to Russian пищаль (piščál’, "shepherd's pipe; harquebus"). Perhaps, however, from Middle English pistolet, from Middle French  ("small firearm or small dagger"), which may be from Italian pistolese ("from Pistoia (a city in Tuscany)").



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  • I kind of like to say this word. Pistol. Pistol. Pistol. It just pops, you know?

    November 18, 2007

  • I always think of

    Pistol: "My name is Pistol call'd."

    Henry: "It sorts well with your fierceness."

    Shakespeare, (Henry V).

    (I probably screwed that up.)

    November 18, 2007

  • I just read that this word originates in the Slavic languages, which I hadn't realized. It came into English from German (Pistole), which took it from the Czech word pišt'ala, which means "whistle, flute, wind instrument" – cf. Russian пищаль / pishchal', Slovene piščal, Polish piszczel, piszczałka, all of which refer to a (potentially) musical wind instrument. The ultimate Slavic root is pisk- ("a whistling sound"), which may be related to the English word "pipe", both probably deriving from the onomatopoetic PIE root pi-.

    January 29, 2011