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[hand-guhn] /ˈhændˌgʌn/
any firearm that can be held and fired with one hand; a revolver or a pistol.
Origin of handgun
late Middle English
First recorded in 1400-50, handgun is from the late Middle English word handgone. See hand, gun1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for handgun
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It's difficult to fire a handgun accurately while in motion.

    The Status Civilization Robert Sheckley
  • The first portable arms were the cannon and handgun, both adjusted to very heavy, straight butt-ends and very difficult to handle.

    The Spell of Belgium Isabel Anderson
  • He was feeling too cheerful to use his rightful advantage over them, and decided to use a handgun, since they had nothing better.

    World Without War E. G. von Wald
  • "Ewyo dies if I'm touched," said Revel coolly, pointing the handgun at the squire's belly.

    The Buttoned Sky Geoff St. Reynard
  • Homer came to his feet and handgun in fist made a dash for the front entrance.

    Black Man's Burden Dallas McCord Reynolds
British Dictionary definitions for handgun


a firearm that can be held, carried, and fired with one hand, such as a pistol
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 handgun

1680s, from hand (n.) + gun (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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