[ guhn ]
See synonyms for gun on
  1. a weapon consisting of a metal tube, with mechanical attachments, from which projectiles are shot by the force of an explosive; a piece of ordnance.

  2. any portable firearm, as a rifle, shotgun, or revolver.

  1. a long-barreled cannon having a relatively flat trajectory.

  2. any device for shooting something under pressure: a paint gun; a staple gun.

  3. Slang. a person whose profession is killing; professional killer: a gangland gun.

  4. British. a member of a shooting party.

  5. Slang.

    • (esp. in baseball) a player’s throwing arm.

    • guns, the biceps or triceps of the arms: his big, muscular guns.

verb (used with object),gunned, gun·ning.
  1. to shoot with a gun (often followed by down): The guards gunned down the fleeing convict.

  2. to cause (an engine, vehicle, aircraft, etc.) to increase in speed very quickly by increasing the supply of fuel.

verb (used without object),gunned, gun·ning.
  1. to hunt with a gun.

  2. to shoot with a gun.

Verb Phrases
  1. gun for,

    • to seek with intent to harm or kill.

    • to seek; try earnestly to obtain: He is gunning for a raise.

Idioms about gun

  1. give the gun, Slang. to put into motion or speed up: We gave the motor the gun and drove off.

  2. jump the gun, Slang.

    • to begin a race before the starting signal.

    • to begin prematurely; act too hastily.

  1. spike someone's guns, to frustrate or prevent someone from accomplishing a plan: Our competitors planned a surprise reduction in their rates, but we discovered it and were able to spike their guns.

  2. stick to one's guns, to maintain one's position in the face of opposition; stand firm: They stuck to their guns and refused to submit.: Also stand by one's guns.

  3. under the gun, under pressure, as to meet a deadline or solve a problem: We're all under the gun with these new sales quotas.

Origin of gun

1300–50; Middle English gunne, gonne, apparently short for Anglo-Latin Gunilda, gonnyld, name for engine of war; compare Old Norse Gunna, short for Gunnhildr woman's name

Other words from gun

  • gunless, adjective

Words Nearby gun

Other definitions for gun (2 of 3)

[ guhn ]

  1. past participle of gin3.

Other definitions for gun. (3 of 3)


  1. gunnery. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use gun in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for gun


/ (ɡʌn) /

    • a weapon with a metallic tube or barrel from which a missile is discharged, usually by force of an explosion. It may be portable or mounted. In a military context the term applies specifically to a flat-trajectory artillery piece

    • (as modifier): a gun barrel

  1. the firing of a gun as a salute or signal, as in military ceremonial

  1. a member of or a place in a shooting party or syndicate

  2. any device used to project something under pressure: a grease gun; a spray gun

  3. US slang an armed criminal; gunman

  4. Australian and NZ slang

    • an expert

    • (as modifier): a gun shearer; a gun batsman

  5. go great guns slang to act or function with great speed, intensity, etc

  6. jump the gun or beat the gun

    • (of a runner, etc) to set off before the starting signal is given

    • informal to act prematurely

  7. spike someone's guns See spike 1 (def. 15)

  8. stick to one's guns informal to maintain one's opinions or intentions in spite of opposition

verbguns, gunning or gunned
  1. (when tr, often foll by down) to shoot (someone) with a gun

  2. (tr) to press hard on the accelerator of (an engine): to gun the engine of a car

  1. (intr) to hunt with a gun

Origin of gun

C14: probably from a female pet name shortened from the Scandinavian name Gunnhildr (from Old Norse gunnr war + hildr war)

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with gun


In addition to the idiom beginning with gun

  • gun for
  • gung ho

also see:

  • at gunpoint
  • big cheese (gun)
  • great guns
  • hired gun
  • hold a gun to someone's head
  • jump the gun
  • smoking gun
  • son of a bitch (gun)
  • stick to one's guns
  • under the gun

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