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  1. any of various simple or complex tubelike devices containing combustibles that on being ignited liberate gases whose action propels the tube through the air: used for pyrotechnic effect, signaling, carrying a lifeline, hurling explosives at an enemy, putting a space vehicle into orbit, etc.
  2. a space capsule or vehicle put into orbit by such devices.
  3. rocket engine.
verb (used with object)
  1. to move or transport by means of a rocket.
  2. to attack with rockets.
verb (used without object)
  1. to move like a rocket.
  2. (of game birds) to fly straight up rapidly when flushed.

Origin of rocket1

1605–15; < Italian rocchetta, diminutive of rocca distaff (with reference to its shape) < Gothic *rukka
Related formsrock·et·like, adjective


  1. any of various plants belonging to the genus Hesperis, of the mustard family, and related genera.Compare dame's rocket.
  2. Also called rocket salad, roquette. the arugula plant, used in salads.
  3. a noxious weed, Barbarea vulgaris, of the U.S., having lobed leaves and clusters of small, yellow flowers.

Origin of rocket2

1520–30; < French roquette < Italian ruchettaLatin ērūca kind of herb


[ri-shahrd; French ree-shar]
  1. Mau·rice [maw-rees; French moh-rees] /mɔˈris; French moʊˈris/,Rocket,1921–2000, Canadian hockey player.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rocket

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Think of our world as it looks from the rocket that is heading toward Mars.

  • That must be it—I was piloting a rocket and cracked up somewhere on Mars.


    Horace Brown Fyfe

  • Suppose we could put a rocket on the Moon and bring it back?

    The Big Tomorrow

    Paul Lohrman

  • And he must take her in, now that he had lost his own rocket!

    Salvage in Space

    John Stewart Williamson

  • It had, then, last been used to enter the rocket, not to leave it.

    Salvage in Space

    John Stewart Williamson

British Dictionary definitions for rocket


  1. a self-propelling device, esp a cylinder containing a mixture of solid explosives, used as a firework, distress signal, line carrier, etc
    1. any vehicle propelled by a rocket engine, esp one used to carry a warhead, spacecraft, etc
    2. (as modifier)rocket propulsion; rocket launcher
  2. British and NZ informal a severe reprimand (esp in the phrase get a rocket)
verb -ets, -eting or -eted
  1. (tr) to propel (a missile, spacecraft, etc) by means of a rocket
  2. (intr ; foll by off, away , etc) to move off at high speed
  3. (intr) to rise rapidlyhe rocketed to the top

Word Origin

C17: from Old French roquette, from Italian rochetto a little distaff, from rocca distaff, of Germanic origin


  1. Also called: arugula a Mediterranean plant, Eruca sativa, having yellowish-white flowers and leaves used as a salad: family Brassicaceae (crucifers)
  2. any of several plants of the related genus Sisymbrium, esp S. irio (London rocket), which grow on waste ground and have pale yellow flowers
  3. yellow rocket any of several yellow-flowered plants of the related genus Barbarea, esp B. vulgaris
  4. sea rocket any of several plants of the related genus Cakile, esp C. maritima, which grow along the seashores of Europe and North America and have mauve, pink, or white flowers
  5. dame's rocket another name for dame's violet

Word Origin

C16: from French roquette, from Italian rochetta, from Latin ērūca a caterpillar, hairy plant


  1. Sir Cliff, real name Harry Rodger Webb . born 1940, British pop singer. Film musicals include The Young Ones (1961) and Summer Holiday (1962)
  2. Maurice, known as Rocket . (1921–2000); Canadian ice hockey player
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 rocket


garden plant of the cabbage family, c.1500, from Middle French roquette (16c.), from Italian rochetta, diminutive of ruca "a kind of cabbage," from Latin eruca "colewort," perhaps so called for its downy stems and related to ericus "hedgehog," also "a beam set with spikes," from PIE *ghers- "to bristle" (see horror).


type of self-propelling projectile, 1610s, from Italian rocchetto "a rocket," literally "a bobbin," diminutive of rocca "a distaff," so called because of cylindrical shape. The Italian word probably is from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German rocko "distaff," Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukkon-, from PIE root *rug- "fabric, spun yarn."

Originally "fireworks rocket," meaning "device propelled by a rocket engine" first recorded 1919; rocket-ship in the modern sense first attested February 1927 ("Popular Science"); earlier as a type of naval warship firing projectiles. Rocket science in the figurative sense of "difficult, complex process or topic" is attested by 1985. Rocket scientist is from 1952.

That such a feat is considered within the range of possibility is evidenced by the activities of scientists in Europe as well as in America. Two of them, Prof. Herman Oberth and Dr. Franz Hoeff, of Vienna, are constructing a five-ton rocket ship in which they hope to reach the moon in two days. ["Popular Science," Feb. 1927]


"to spring like a rocket," 1860, from rocket (n.2). Earlier "to attack with rockets" (1799). Related: Rocketed; rocketing.


masc. proper name, Middle English Rycharde, from Old French Richard, from Old High German Ricohard "strong in rule," from Proto-Germanic *rik- "ruler" (see rich) + *harthu "hard," from PIE *kar-o- (see hard). "One of the most popular names introduced by the Normans. Usually Latinized as Ricardus, the common form was Ricard, whence the pet form Rick, etc." ["Dictionary of English Surnames"]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rocket in Science


  1. A vehicle or device propelled by one or more rocket engines, especially such a vehicle designed to travel through space.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.