- an early type of machine gun consisting of a revolving cluster of barrels around a central axis, each barrel being automatically loaded and fired every revolution of the cluster.
Origin of Gatling gun
1860–65, Americanism; named after R. J. Gatling (1818–1903), U.S. inventor
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
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Historical Examples of gatling gun
- a hand-cranked automatic machine gun equipped with a rotating cluster of barrels that are fired in succession using brass cartridges
Word Origin for Gatling gun
C19: named after R. J. Gatling (1818–1903), its US inventor
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
1870, named for designer Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling (1818-1903); patented by 1862 but not used in American Civil War until the Petersburg campaign of June 1864 as an independent initiative by U.S. Gen. Ben Butler.
For the first time in this war, the Gatling gun was used by Butler in repelling one of Beauregard's midnight attacks. Dispatches state that it was very destructive, and rebel prisoners were very curious to know whether it was loaded all night and fired all day. ... Gatling, like Mann, has found it very difficult to get fair trials of his gun, and to have it introduced by the War Department, for the Government leaves all such things to the Ordnance Office, and that office is under the control of old fogies, who work by red tape, and who are slow to perceive the value of ordnance improvements, and still slower to introduce them into practice. ["Scientific American," June 18, 1864]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper