[mis-uh l or, esp. British, -ahyl]


an object or weapon for throwing, hurling, or shooting, as a stone, bullet, or arrow.


capable of being thrown, hurled, or shot, as from the hand or a gun.
used or designed for discharging missiles.

Origin of missile

1600–10; < Latin, neuter of missilis, equivalent to miss(us) (past participle of mittere to send, throw) + -ilis -ile
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for missile

Contemporary Examples of missile

Historical Examples of missile

  • He heard the bullets and every form of missile from the cannon whining all about them.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • Had he remained where he was the missile would have passed him harmlessly.

    War from the Inside

    Frederick L. (Frederick Lyman) Hitchcock

  • I was glad that my missile had been thrown away,—that he had not even heard the twang of the bow.

    Lord Jim

    Joseph Conrad

  • Litton cried, raising the only missile he could find, an inkstand.

    In a Little Town

    Rupert Hughes

  • The words were flung like a missile into the face of the brute.

    Peak and Prairie

    Anna Fuller

British Dictionary definitions for missile



any object or weapon that is thrown at a target or shot from an engine, gun, etc
  1. a rocket-propelled weapon that flies either in a fixed trajectory (ballistic missile) or in a trajectory that can be controlled during flight (guided missile)
  2. (as modifier)a missile carrier

Word Origin for missile

C17: from Latin: missilis, from mittere to send
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 missile

"thing thrown or discharged as a weapon," is 1650s, from missile (adj.), 1610s, "capable of being thrown," chiefly in phrase missile weapon, from French missile and directly from Latin missilis "that may be thrown or hurled" (also, in plural, as a noun, "weapons that can be thrown, darts, javelins"), from missus "a throwing, hurling," past participle of mittere "to send" (see mission). Sense of "self-propelled rocket or bomb" is first recorded 1738; the modern remote guidance projectile so called from 1945.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper