- an ancient military engine for throwing stones or other missiles.
Origin of ballista
1590–1600; < Latin, probably < Greek *ballistā́s, dialectal variant of *ballistḗs, equivalent to báll(ein) to throw + -istēs -ist
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for ballista
The ballista was considerably larger and more expensive than this.
No ballista, however, is made without regard to the given amount of weight of the stone which the engine is intended to throw.Ten Books on Architecture
The ballista (Fig. 229) was in reality a large cross-bow, built to shoot long, heavy bolts or arrows.The Boy Craftsman
A. Neely Hall
Like a modern field gun, the ballista shot low and directly toward the enemy.Artillery Through the Ages
Various names were applied to these weapons, the chief of which were the ballista and the catapult.Great Inventions and Discoveries
Willis Duff Piercy
- an ancient catapult for hurling stones, etc
- an ancient form of large crossbow used to propel a spear
C16: from Latin, ultimately from Greek ballein to throw
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for ballista
ancient war engine, late 14c., from Latin ballista, literally "a throwing machine," from Greek ballein "to throw" (see ballistics).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper