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[awrd-nuh ns] /ˈɔrd nəns/
cannon or artillery.
military weapons with their equipment, ammunition, etc.
the branch of an army that procures, stores, and issues, weapons, munitions, and combat vehicles and maintains arsenals for their development and testing.
Origin of ordnance
First recorded in 1620-30; syncopated variant of ordinance
Can be confused
ordinance, ordnance, ordonnance. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ordnance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Methinks I see the breastplates of horse over there, and some sign of ordnance too.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • It 's not a very comely piece of ordnance, but it is very true and easy to carry.

    Tony Butler Charles James Lever
  • If the ordnance officer wanted it, let him come himself and get it!

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • Provisions, ordnance, ammunition, and recruits were expected from St. Louis.

    Old Fort Snelling Marcus L. Hansen
  • This time there was no defect in the ordnance or the gunnery of the American ship.

  • But the ordnance of both was light, so that the combat was greatly prolonged.

British Dictionary definitions for ordnance


cannon or artillery
military supplies; munitions
the ordnance, a department of an army or government dealing with military supplies
Word Origin
C14: variant of ordinance
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 ordnance

"cannon, artillery," 1540s, a clipped form of ordinance (q.v.) which was attested from late 14c. in the sense of "military materials, provisions of war;" a sense now obsolete but which led to those of "engines for discharging missiles" (early 15c.) and "branch of the military concerned with stores and materials" (late 15c.). The shorter word was established in these distinct senses by 17c. Ordnance survey (1833), official survey of Great Britain and Ireland, was undertaken by the government under the direction of the Master-General of the Ordnance (a natural choice, because gunners have to be skilled at surveying ranges and distances).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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