The Collaborative International Dictionary
Gun \Gun\ (g[u^]n), n. [OE. gonne, gunne; of uncertain origin; cf. Ir., Gael., & LL. gunna, W. gum; possibly (like cannon) fr. L. canna reed, tube; or abbreviated fr. OF. mangonnel, E. mangonel, a machine for hurling stones.]
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.
As swift as a pellet out of a gunne When fire is in the powder runne.
The word gun was in use in England for an engine to cast a thing from a man long before there was any gunpowder found out.
(Mil.) A piece of heavy ordnance; in a restricted sense, a cannon.
pl. (Naut.) Violent blasts of wind.
Note: Guns are classified, according to their construction or manner of loading as rifled or smoothbore, breech-loading or muzzle-loading, cast or built-up guns; or according to their use, as field, mountain, prairie, seacoast, and siege guns.
Armstrong gun, a wrought iron breech-loading cannon named after its English inventor, Sir William Armstrong.
Big gun or Great gun, a piece of heavy ordnance; hence (Fig.), a person superior in any way; as, bring in the big guns to tackle the problem.
Gun barrel, the barrel or tube of a gun.
Gun carriage, the carriage on which a gun is mounted or moved.
Gun cotton (Chem.), a general name for a series of explosive nitric ethers of cellulose, obtained by steeping cotton in nitric and sulphuric acids. Although there are formed substances containing nitric acid radicals, yet the results exactly resemble ordinary cotton in appearance. It burns without ash, with explosion if confined, but quietly and harmlessly if free and open, and in small quantity. Specifically, the lower nitrates of cellulose which are insoluble in ether and alcohol in distinction from the highest (pyroxylin) which is soluble. See Pyroxylin, and cf. Xyloidin. The gun cottons are used for blasting and somewhat in gunnery: for making celluloid when compounded with camphor; and the soluble variety (pyroxylin) for making collodion. See Celluloid, and Collodion. Gun cotton is frequenty but improperly called nitrocellulose. It is not a nitro compound, but an ester of nitric acid.
Gun deck. See under Deck.
Gun fire, the time at which the morning or the evening gun is fired.
Gun metal, a bronze, ordinarily composed of nine parts of copper and one of tin, used for cannon, etc. The name is also given to certain strong mixtures of cast iron.
Gun port (Naut.), an opening in a ship through which a cannon's muzzle is run out for firing.
Gun tackle (Naut.), the blocks and pulleys affixed to the side of a ship, by which a gun carriage is run to and from the gun port.
Gun tackle purchase (Naut.), a tackle composed of two single blocks and a fall.
Krupp gun, a wrought steel breech-loading cannon, named after its German inventor, Herr Krupp.
Machine gun, a breech-loading gun or a group of such guns, mounted on a carriage or other holder, and having a reservoir containing cartridges which are loaded into the gun or guns and fired in rapid succession. In earlier models, such as the Gatling gun, the cartridges were loaded by machinery operated by turning a crank. In modern versions the loading of cartidges is accomplished by levers operated by the recoil of the explosion driving the bullet, or by the pressure of gas within the barrel. Several hundred shots can be fired in a minute by such weapons, with accurate aim. The Gatling gun, Gardner gun, Hotchkiss gun, and Nordenfelt gun, named for their inventors, and the French mitrailleuse, are machine guns.
To blow great guns (Naut.), to blow a gale. See Gun, n., 3.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
kind of machine gun, from French mitrailleuse (19c.), from Old French mitaille (14c.) "small coins," hence "old iron, scrap iron," then "grapeshot;" originally a diminutive of mite "a small coin" (see mite (n.2)). "For sense development it should be borne in mind that orig. guns used to be loaded with scrap iron" [Klein].
n. (context military English) A breech-loading machine gun consisting of a number of barrels fitted together, so arranged that the barrels can be fired simultaneously, or successively, and rapidly.
A mitrailleuse (; from French mitraille, " grapeshot") is a type of volley gun with multiple barrels of rifle calibre that can fire either multiple rounds at once or several rounds in rapid succession. The earliest true mitrailleuse was invented in 1851 by Belgian Army Captain Fafschamps, 10 years before the advent of the Gatling gun. It was followed by the Belgian Montigny mitrailleuse in 1863. Then the French 25 barrel "Canon à Balles", better known as the Reffye mitrailleuse, was adopted in great secrecy in 1866. It became the first rapid-firing weapon deployed as standard equipment by any army in a major conflict when it was used during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. A steel block containing twenty-five 13 mm (.51 calibre) centre-fire cartridges was locked against the breech before firing. With the rotation of a crank, the 25 rounds were discharged in rapid succession. The sustainable firing rate of the Reffye mitrailleuse was 100 rounds per minute. The maximum effective range of the Reffye mitrailleuse was about 2000 yards; a distance which placed their batteries beyond the reach of Prussian Dreyse needle rifle fire. Reffye mitrailleuses were deployed in six gun batteries and were manned by artillery personnel. They were not infantry support weapons but rather a form of special artillery.
Although innovative and capable of good ballistic performance, the Reffye mitrailleuse failed as a tactical weapon because its basic concept and operational usage were flawed. Furthermore only 210 Reffye mitrailleuses were in existence at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Their field use was discontinued by the French Army after 1871. After the Gatling gun was replaced in service by newer recoil- or gas-operated weapons, the approach of using multiple barrels fell into disuse for many decades. However, some examples were developed during the interwar years, but only existed as prototypes, or were rarely used. The word mitrailleuse nonetheless became the generic term for a machine gun in the French language because of its early appearance in the field of weapons, although the mitrailleuse itself was manually operated.
Usage examples of "mitrailleuse".
And, best of all, thus far no missile from that popping mitrailleuse of the German had done serious damage to the vitals of his plane.
Jack fumbled for the fastenings of the airplane mitrailleuse, it being his intention to swing the gun free, so that he could turn its muzzle in any quarter desired.
Yet to-day I am almost ashamed to appear in such a belligerent fashion, with this terrible mitrailleuse of gardening.
Every one of our infantry companies, incidentally, contains a heavy-weapons platoon, and each squad in that platoon is armed with the Montigny mitrailleuse, to give long-range rapid-fire cover for each advance of the riflemen.
Strauss, whose mother was an American, had the mitrailleuse in his car, and stood upright, firing upon the Germans without being touched by the heavy rifle fire that they directed against him.
He was really the principal hero of the occasion, having stood bolt upright in his car and riddled the German forces with his mitrailleuse until the few survivors turned and fled.
A young chap named Strauss, whose mother was an American, had the mitrailleuse in his car, and stood upright, firing upon the Germans without being touched by the heavy rifle fire that they directed against him.
As we passed the prison of La Roquette, we heard about ninety rifle-shots and then a mitrailleuse, and were told by the troops that prisoners were being executed.
But on the evening of the same day two victims fired the mitrailleuse from the quarters of the town militia and killed and injured some five hundred people.
The first form of this weapon tried, the mitrailleuse, was not very successful.
The much-vaunted Montigny mitrailleuses in particular, reported the correspondents, had proven extravagantly spendthrift of cartridges.
Montrouge and Vanves have been reduced to silence by a battery of mitrailleuses established on a parapet of Issy, which picks off Federal artillerymen when they show themselves.
Insurgents is much weaker than it was yesterday and the day before, except at Vaugirard, and from there to Montrouge, where mitrailleuses and musketry were brought into requisition.
Division turned their pieces on the ramparts against the enemy, Mitrailleuses were also brought into requisition by the troops, and within an hour the Insurgents had fled to a distance.
The number of cannon and mitrailleuses taken was very considerable, amounting to some hundreds.