See more synonyms for ballistic on
  1. go ballistic, Informal. to become overwrought or irrational: went ballistic over the idea of a tax hike.

Origin of ballistic

First recorded in 1765–75; ballist(a) + -ic
Related formsbal·lis·ti·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for go ballistic


  1. of or relating to ballistics
  2. denoting or relating to the flight of projectiles after power has been cut off, moving under their own momentum and the external forces of gravity and air resistance
  3. (of a measurement or measuring instrument) depending on a brief impulse or current that causes a movement related to the quantity to be measureda ballistic pendulum
  4. go ballistic informal to become enraged or frenziedly violent
  5. (of materials) strong enough to resist damage by projectile weaponsballistic nylon
Derived Formsballistically, adverb
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 go ballistic



1775, "pertaining to thrown objects," ultimately from Greek ballein "to throw" (see ballistics). Of rockets or missiles (ones that are guided while under propulsion, but fall freely), from 1949. Ballistic missile first attested 1954; they attain extreme heights, hence figurative expression go ballistic (1981) "become irrationally angry."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with go ballistic

go ballistic

Become extremely upset or angry, as in Dad will go ballistic when he sees you dented the new car. This expression, a variation on go berserk, originally alluded to a guided missile going out of control. [Slang; mid-1980s]


see go ballistic.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.