any firearm that can be held and fired with one hand; a revolver or a pistol.

Origin of handgun

First recorded in 1400–50, handgun is from the late Middle English word handgone. See hand, gun1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for handgun

Contemporary Examples of handgun

Historical Examples of handgun

  • It's difficult to fire a handgun accurately while in motion.

  • The first portable arms were the cannon and handgun, both adjusted to very heavy, straight butt-ends and very difficult to handle.

    The Spell of Belgium

    Isabel Anderson

  • He was feeling too cheerful to use his rightful advantage over them, and decided to use a handgun, since they had nothing better.

    World Without War

    E. G. von Wald

  • "Ewyo dies if I'm touched," said Revel coolly, pointing the handgun at the squire's belly.

    The Buttoned Sky

    Geoff St. Reynard

  • Homer came to his feet and handgun in fist made a dash for the front entrance.

    Black Man's Burden

    Dallas McCord Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for handgun



a firearm that can be held, carried, and fired with one hand, such as a pistol
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 handgun

1680s, from hand (n.) + gun (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper