noun, plural bal·lis·tae [buh-lis-tee] /bəˈlɪs ti/.

an ancient military engine for throwing stones or other missiles.

Origin of ballista

1590–1600; < Latin, probably < Greek *ballistā́s, dialectal variant of *ballistḗs, equivalent to báll(ein) to throw + -istēs -ist Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ballistae

Historical Examples of ballistae

British Dictionary definitions for ballistae


noun plural -tae (-tiː)

an ancient catapult for hurling stones, etc
an ancient form of large crossbow used to propel a spear

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 ballistae



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper