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See more synonyms for ballista on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural bal·lis·tae [buh-lis-tee] /bəˈlɪs ti/.
  1. an ancient military engine for throwing stones or other missiles.
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Origin of ballista

1590–1600; < Latin, probably < Greek *ballistā́s, dialectal variant of *ballistḗs, equivalent to báll(ein) to throw + -istēs -ist
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for ballista

pistol, bomb, sword, gun, missile, cannon, rifle, machete, ammunition, firearm, knife, shotgun, revolver, slingshot, catapult, dagger, spear, bayonet, ax, bludgeon

Examples from the Web for ballista

Historical Examples of ballista

  • The ballista was considerably larger and more expensive than this.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 5, Slice 5


  • No ballista, however, is made without regard to the given amount of weight of the stone which the engine is intended to throw.

  • The ballista (Fig. 229) was in reality a large cross-bow, built to shoot long, heavy bolts or arrows.

    The Boy Craftsman

    A. Neely Hall

  • Like a modern field gun, the ballista shot low and directly toward the enemy.

  • Various names were applied to these weapons, the chief of which were the ballista and the catapult.

British Dictionary definitions for ballista


noun plural -tae (-tiː)
  1. an ancient catapult for hurling stones, etc
  2. an ancient form of large crossbow used to propel a spear
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Word Origin for ballista

C16: from Latin, ultimately from Greek ballein to throw
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 ballista


ancient war engine, late 14c., from Latin ballista, literally "a throwing machine," from Greek ballein "to throw" (see ballistics).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper