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[kat-uh-puhlt, -poo lt] /ˈkæt əˌpʌlt, -ˌpʊlt/
an ancient military engine for hurling stones, arrows, etc.
a device for launching an airplane from the deck of a ship.
British. a slingshot.
verb (used with object)
to hurl from a catapult.
to thrust or move quickly or suddenly:
His brilliant performance in the play catapulted him to stardom.
  1. to hurl (a missile) from a slingshot.
  2. to hit (an object) with a missile from a slingshot.
verb (used without object)
to be catapulted.
to move or spring up suddenly, quickly, or forcibly, as if by means of a catapult:
The car catapulted down the highway. When he heard the alarm he catapulted out of bed.
Origin of catapult
1570-80; < Latin catapulta < Greek katapéltēs, equivalent to kata- cata- + péltēs hurler, akin to pállein to hurl
Related forms
catapultic, adjective
5. throw, fling, propel, pitch, shoot. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for catapult
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Juve shot his answer at the lieutenant, like a stone from a catapult.

    A Nest of Spies Pierre Souvestre
  • All its spires are spears at rest; and all its stones are stones asleep in a catapult.

    A Miscellany of Men G. K. Chesterton
  • Is it the thought of Wolsey which makes him frown—or is he wondering where he left his catapult?

    Once a Week Alan Alexander Milne
  • And he knew that at any moment this beast might come at him as if discharged from a catapult.

    Diamond Dyke George Manville Fenn
  • But I know that our steam-bowler will beat their catapult hollow.

    The Fixed Period

    Anthony Trollope
  • They tried their catapult with single, double, and even treble action.

    The Fixed Period

    Anthony Trollope
  • Durham was flung over its head like a stone from a catapult.

    The Rider of Waroona Firth Scott
British Dictionary definitions for catapult


a Y-shaped implement with a loop of elastic fastened to the ends of the two prongs, used mainly by children for shooting small stones, etc US and Canadian name slingshot
a heavy war engine used formerly for hurling stones, etc
a device installed in warships to launch aircraft
(transitive) to shoot forth from or as if from a catapult
foll by over, into, etc. to move precipitately: she was catapulted to stardom overnight
Word Origin
C16: from Latin catapulta, from Greek katapeltēs, from kata- down + pallein to hurl
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
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Word Origin and History for catapult

1570s, from Middle French catapulte and directly from Latin catapulta "war machine for throwing," from Greek katapeltes, from kata "against" (see cata-) + base of pallein "to toss, hurl" (see pulse (n.1)). As an airplane-launching device on an aircraft-carrier by 1927.


1848, "to throw with a catapult," from catapult (n.). Intransitive sense by 1928. Related: Catapulted; catapulting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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