• synonyms


[lawnch, lahnch]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to set (a boat or ship) in the water.
  2. to float (a newly constructed boat or ship) usually by allowing to slide down inclined ways into the water.
  3. to send forth, catapult, or release, as a self-propelled vehicle or weapon: Rockets were launched midway in the battle. The submarine launched its torpedoes and dived rapidly.
  4. to start (a person) on a course, career, etc.
  5. to set going; initiate: to launch a scheme.
  6. to throw; hurl: to launch a spear.
  7. to start (a new venture) or promote (a new product): They launched a new breakfast cereal.
  8. Computers. to start (a software program).
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verb (used without object)
  1. to burst out or plunge boldly or directly into action, speech, etc.
  2. to start out or forth; push out or put forth on the water.
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  1. the act of launching.
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Origin of launch1

1300–50; late Middle English launche < Anglo-French lancher < Late Latin lanceāre to wield a lance; see lance1
Related formslaunch·a·ble, adjectiveun·launched, adjectivewell-launched, adjective


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[lawnch, lahnch]
  1. a heavy open or half-decked boat propelled by oars or by an engine.
  2. a large utility boat carried by a warship.
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Origin of launch2

1690–1700; < Spanish, Portuguese lancha, earlier Portuguese lanchara, first attested in 1515 in an account of boats encountered near the Strait of Malacca; of unclear orig.; neither Malay lancar “swift” nor Rom outcomes of Late Latin lanceāre (see launch1) are fully convincing as sources; modern Malay lanca is < Portuguese
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

fire, institute, introduce, start, inaugurate, open, commence, shoot, bombard, lance, sling, propel, fling, toss, hurl, eject, drive, dispatch, project, cast

Examples from the Web for launch

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The strange brig had hauled up for us even before we got out the launch.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Not enough of her could be found, of which to build a launch.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Launch your arrows at me, sir, if you'll have the goodness; not at Him!'

  • Then came the report of an attempt to launch an airplane from the roof of Berlin.

  • Thou hast often heard me launch out in praise of her complexion.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

British Dictionary definitions for launch


  1. to move (a vessel) into the water
  2. to move (a newly built vessel) into the water for the first time
  3. (tr)
    1. to start off or set in motionto launch a scheme
    2. to put (a new product) on the market
  4. (tr) to propel with force
  5. to involve (oneself) totally and enthusiasticallyto launch oneself into work
  6. (tr) to set (a missile, spacecraft, etc) into motion
  7. (tr) to catapult (an aircraft), as from the deck of an aircraft carrier
  8. (intr foll by into) to start talking or writing (about)he launched into a story
  9. (intr usually foll by out) to start (out) on a fresh course
  10. (intr usually foll by out) informal to spend a lot of money
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  1. an act or instance of launching
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Word Origin

C14: from Anglo-French lancher, from Late Latin lanceāre to use a lance, hence, to set in motion. See lance


  1. a motor driven boat used chiefly as a transport boat
  2. the largest of the boats of a man-of-war
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Word Origin

C17: via Spanish lancha and Portuguese from Malay lancharan boat, from lanchar speed
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 launch


c.1300, "to rush, plunge, leap, start forth; to be set into sudden motion," from Old North French lancher (Old French lancier) "to fling, hurl, throw, cast," from Late Latin lanceare "wield a lance," from Latin lancea "light spear" (see lance). Sense of "set (a boat) afloat" first recorded c.1400, from notion of throwing it out on the water; generalized by 1600 to any sort of beginning. The noun meaning "a leap or a bound" is from mid-15c., from the verb. Meaning "the liftoff of a missile, spacecraft, etc." is from 1935. Launch pad attested from 1960.

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"large boat carried on a warship," 1690s, from Portuguese lancha "barge, launch," apparently from Malay lancharan, from lanchar "quick, agile;" English spelling influenced by launch (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper