• synonyms


[kat-uh-puhlt, -poolt]
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  1. an ancient military engine for hurling stones, arrows, etc.
  2. a device for launching an airplane from the deck of a ship.
  3. British. a slingshot.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to hurl from a catapult.
  2. to thrust or move quickly or suddenly: His brilliant performance in the play catapulted him to stardom.
  3. British.
    1. to hurl (a missile) from a slingshot.
    2. to hit (an object) with a missile from a slingshot.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to be catapulted.
  2. to move or spring up suddenly, quickly, or forcibly, as if by means of a catapult: The car catapulted down the highway. When he heard the alarm he catapulted out of bed.
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Origin of catapult

1570–80; < Latin catapulta < Greek katapéltēs, equivalent to kata- cata- + péltēs hurler, akin to pállein to hurl
Related formscat·a·pul·tic, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for catapult

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Juve shot his answer at the lieutenant, like a stone from a catapult.

    A Nest of Spies

    Pierre Souvestre

  • All its spires are spears at rest; and all its stones are stones asleep in a catapult.

    A Miscellany of Men

    G. K. Chesterton

  • Is it the thought of Wolsey which makes him frown—or is he wondering where he left his catapult?

    Once a Week

    Alan Alexander Milne

  • And he knew that at any moment this beast might come at him as if discharged from a catapult.

    Diamond Dyke

    George Manville Fenn

  • But I know that our steam-bowler will beat their catapult hollow.

    The Fixed Period

    Anthony Trollope

British Dictionary definitions for catapult


  1. a Y-shaped implement with a loop of elastic fastened to the ends of the two prongs, used mainly by children for shooting small stones, etcUS and Canadian name: slingshot
  2. a heavy war engine used formerly for hurling stones, etc
  3. a device installed in warships to launch aircraft
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  1. (tr) to shoot forth from or as if from a catapult
  2. (foll by over, into, etc) to move precipitatelyshe was catapulted to stardom overnight
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Word Origin

C16: from Latin catapulta, from Greek katapeltēs, from kata- down + pallein to hurl
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 catapult


1570s, from Middle French catapulte and directly from Latin catapulta "war machine for throwing," from Greek katapeltes, from kata "against" (see cata-) + base of pallein "to toss, hurl" (see pulse (n.1)). As an airplane-launching device on an aircraft-carrier by 1927.

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1848, "to throw with a catapult," from catapult (n.). Intransitive sense by 1928. Related: Catapulted; catapulting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper