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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.]

  1. 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.

  2. (Mil.) A piece of heavy ordnance; in a restricted sense, a cannon.

  3. 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.


a. (context firearms English) having a bore with a smooth interior, ie. one that has not been rifled n. (context firearms English) a cannon, gun or other firearm that has an unrifled barrel.


adj. of a firearm; not having rifling or internal spiral grooves inside the barrel [syn: unrifled] [ant: rifled]


A smoothbore weapon is one that has a barrel without rifling. Smoothbores range from handheld firearms to powerful tank guns and large artillery mortars. The majority of shotguns are smoothbores and the term can be synonymous.

Usage examples of "smoothbore".

More than two centuries earlier, the smoothbore had come into its own on the battlefield.

Loading a rifle or smoothbore required fine motor skills, and most soldiers arrived at a battlefield exhausted after miles of marching, after too little food, and after much sleep deprivation.

Also, if one is firing a rifle rather than a smoothbore, it is critical to put the minie ball in with its flat end first.

Sunday morning, after a grueling trek from Winchester, Captain John Daniel Imboden and his four smoothbore six-pounders bumbled into Manassas.

Some analysts have suggested that the Confederate guns, made up of eleven smoothbores and two rifled guns, were actually more suited to close work than the nine rifled and two smoothbore cannon of the Union batteries.

Kit peered judiciously into his smoothbore, which was as usual very clean, and ignored him.

Kit followed, a little hampered by his boots and the heavy smoothbore, but oddly, no longer aware that he was tired.

Ryan heard the puny crack of a smoothbore musket, but he had no idea where the ball had flown.

He had heard that the grooves spun the bullet which somehow made a rifle far more accurate than a shot from a smoothbore musket.

The sixteen-inch smoothbore belched fire with a blast of sound that was like the bellow of a giant.

Because they did not use rifles themselves, preferring the smoothbore musket that fired so much quicker, they took no precautions against the green-jacketed men who used cover so skilfully, and who could kill at three or four hundred paces.

He had been offered a smoothbore musket, and had scathingly rejected it.

The Baker rifle, with its seven grooves twisting a quarter turn in the barrel, had both a longer range and a deadlier accuracy than the smoothbore musket.

His luck was that the murderous farmer owned only an antique smoothbore black-powder musket, and was using it at extreme range, actually firing from the bedroom window of his weeping thirty-year-old daughter.

He also had a brace of smoothbore flintlock pistols at his belt, looking the same bore as the Hall musket.