[ pis-tl ]
/ ˈpɪs tl /


a short firearm intended to be held and fired with one hand.

verb (used with object), pis·toled, pis·tol·ing or (especially British) pis·tolled, pis·tol·ling.

to shoot with a pistol.

Nearby words

  1. piste,
  2. pistil,
  3. pistillate,
  4. pistle,
  5. pistoia,
  6. pistol grip,
  7. pistol-handle knife,
  8. pistol-whip,
  9. pistole,
  10. pistoleer

Origin of pistol

1560–70; < Middle French pistole < German, earlier pitschal, pitschole, petsole < Czech píšt’ala literally, pipe, fife, whistle (presumably a slang term for a type of light harquebus employed during the Hussite wars), akin to pištět to squeak, peep

Related formspis·tol·like, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pistol

British Dictionary definitions for pistol


/ (ˈpɪstəl) /


a short-barrelled handgun
hold a pistol to a person's head to threaten a person in order to force him to do what one wants

verb -tols, -tolling or -tolled or US -tols, -toling or -toled

(tr) to shoot with a pistol

Word Origin for pistol

C16: from French pistole, from German, from Czech pišt'ala pistol, pipe; related to Russian pischal shepherd's pipes

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 pistol



"small hand-held firearm," 1570s, from Middle French pistole "short firearm" (1566), of uncertain origin, sometimes said to be from German Pistole, from Czech pis'tala "firearm," literally "tube, pipe," from pisteti "to whistle," of imitative origin, related to Russian pischal "shepherd's pipe."

But earlier English form pistolet (1550) is said to be from Middle French pistolet "a small firearm," also "a small dagger," which may be the literal sense; though some connect this word with Italian pistolese, in reference to Pistoia, town in Tuscany noted for gunsmithing. Pistol-whip (v.) is first recorded 1942.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper