- a self-propelled, cigar-shaped missile containing explosives and often equipped with a homing device, launched from a submarine or other warship, for destroying surface vessels or other submarines.
- any of various submarine explosive devices for destroying hostile ships, as a mine.
- a cartridge of gunpowder, dynamite, or the like, exploded in an oil well to facilitate the extraction of oil from the well.
- a detonating device fastened to the top of a rail so as to be exploded by the pressure of a locomotive or car, thus giving an audible signal to members of a train crew.
- any of various other explosive devices, as a firework that consists of an explosive wrapped up with gravel in a piece of tissue paper and that detonates when thrown forcibly on the ground or against a hard surface.
- Also called torpedo fish. an electric ray, especially Torpedo nobiliana, of the Atlantic Ocean.
- an electric catfish, Malapterurus electricus, inhabiting waters of tropical central Africa and the Nile valley.
- Informal. a hero sandwich.
- Slang. a gangster hired as a murderer.
- to attack, hit, damage, or destroy with torpedoes.
- to explode a torpedo in (an oil well) to facilitate the extraction of oil.
- to undermine, ruin, or destroy: He torpedoed our plans.
- to attack, damage, or sink a ship with torpedoes.
Origin of torpedo
Regional variation note
Examples from the Web for torpedo
Will sanctions already in effect continue to torpedo the Iranian economy, or will sanctions begin to crumble?P5+1 Talks Drill Down On The Future Of Iran’s Nukes
February 20, 2014
They torpedo the Affordable Care Act, and I believe we will now have single payer in this country within the next 15 years.Single Payer Is Getting a Second Life as Obamacare Frustration Peaks
December 10, 2013
Hamas is playing an active role in trying to torpedo the peace process.All Terrorism, Both Jewish and Arab, Must Stop for Talks to Succeed
October 29, 2013
Hoping that his hi-tech marketing wiles will not go for naught, Bennett will now try to torpedo the prize ceremony.The Game Show of Israeli Politics
August 2, 2013
A major flare-up in the fighting is another factor that could torpedo the talks.The Taliban Peace Movement
Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau
June 19, 2013
This time the Majestic was taken as the target for a torpedo and she went down.
He grabbed a handful of shirt on the first torpedo and poked his face down.Arm of the Law
If he could get close enough he might be able to use his torpedo tubes.
The Arethusa had also come up and prepared (p. 256) to launch a torpedo.
With what torpedo chill have you touched the sinews of that manly arm?The Universal Reciter
- a cylindrical self-propelled weapon carrying explosives that is launched from aircraft, ships, or submarines and follows an underwater path to hit its target
- obsolete a submarine mine
- US and Canadian a firework containing gravel and a percussion cap that explodes when dashed against a hard surface
- US and Canadian a detonator placed on a railway line as a danger signal
- any of various electric rays of the genus Torpedo
- to hit (a ship, etc) with one or a number of torpedoes
- to render ineffective; destroy or wreckto torpedo the administration's plan
Word Origin and History for torpedo
1520s, "electric ray," from Latin torpedo, originally "numbness" (from the effect of being jolted by the ray's electric discharges), from torpere "be numb" (see torpor). The sense of "explosive device used to blow up enemy ships" is first recorded 1776, as a floating mine; the self-propelled version is from 1860s.
1873, from torpedo (n.). Figurative sense attested from 1895. Related: Torpedoed; torpedoing.