a sheathlike carrying case for a firearm, attached to a belt, shoulder sling, or saddle.

verb (used with object)

to put or put back in a holster: to holster a gun.

Origin of holster

1655–65; < Dutch; cognate with Gothic hulistr, Old Norse hulstr sheath; akin to Old English helan to hide
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for holster

Contemporary Examples of holster

  • I took off the sheath, the holster, so to speak, of the taser and I loaded the taser.

  • If Bush was too quick to pull the trigger, Obama is reluctant ever to pull the gun out of its holster.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Apocalypse When?

    Lee Siegel

    August 28, 2011

  • Every government in Delhi keeps a thermometer in its holster and calibrates its decibel levels according to ground temperature.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Mumbai's Dangerous Amnesia

    M.J. Akbar

    November 25, 2009

  • The man started to walk menacingly toward my partner, who then reached into his holster for his Smith & Wesson .38.

    The Daily Beast logo
    What a Cop Is Supposed to Do

    John Connolly

    July 26, 2009

Historical Examples of holster

  • For the gun Andy had his Colt in the holster, and he knew it like his own mind.

  • Thinking of this, he produced it from the holster with a flick of his fingers.

  • Then his right arm loosened, and the hand flashed down to his holster.

  • How'll they know that it was luck—that my gun stuck in the holster—and that you jumped me on the draw?

  • The Federal's pistol slid into its holster and his sabre flashed out.

    The Cavalier

    George Washington Cable

British Dictionary definitions for holster



a sheathlike leather case for a pistol, attached to a belt or saddle
mountaineering a similar case for an ice axe or piton hammer
Derived Formsholstered, adjective

Word Origin for holster

C17: via Dutch holster from Germanic; compare Old Norse hulstr sheath, Old English heolstor darkness, Gothic hulistr cover
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 holster

"leather case for a pistol," 1660s, probably from Old English heolster, earlier helustr "concealment, hiding place," from Proto-Germanic *hulfti- (cf. Old High German hulft "cover, case, sheath," Old Norse hulstr "case, sheath," Middle Dutch holster, German Holfster "holster"), from PIE *kel- "to cover, to hide" (see cell). Intermediate forms are wanting, and the modern word could as well be from the Norse or Dutch cognates.


by 1902, from holster (n.). Related: Holstered; holstering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper