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[kan-uh n-bawl]
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noun Also cannon ball.
  1. a missile, usually round and made of iron or steel, designed to be fired from a cannon.
  2. Tennis. a served ball that travels with great speed and describes little or no arc in flight.
  3. anything that moves with great speed, as an express train.
  1. made from a curled-up position with the arms pressing the knees against one's chest: a cannonball dive.
  2. moving at great speed: a train known as a cannonball express.

Origin of cannonball

First recorded in 1655–65; cannon + ball1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cannon-ball

Historical Examples

  • In the act of presenting it, the lieutenant was carried off by a cannon-ball.

    The Book of Anecdotes and Budget of Fun;


  • How can a thought in the brain of man contract a set of muscles and lift a cannon-ball?

    The Shadow World

    Hamlin Garland

  • One of the towers had been knocked off, probably by a cannon-ball.

    A Jolly Fellowship

    Frank R. Stockton

  • Let us now fix our attention for a moment on the gunpowder which urges the cannon-ball.

  • For certainly he could have used a ball at one end—a cannon-ball—and a mortar at the other.

    Waiting for Daylight

    Henry Major Tomlinson

British Dictionary definitions for cannon-ball


  1. a projectile fired from a cannon: usually a solid round metal shot
  2. tennis
    1. a very fast low serve
    2. (as modifier)a cannonball serve
  3. a jump into water by a person who has his arms tucked into the body to form a ball
verb (intr)
  1. (often foll by along, etc) to rush along, like a cannonball
  2. to execute a cannonball jump
  1. very fast or powerful
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 cannon-ball


also cannon ball, 1660s, from cannon (n.) + ball (n.1). As a type of dive, from 1905.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper