Definition of blunderbuss in English:



  • 1historical A short large-bored gun firing balls or slugs.

    • ‘However, his soldiers now have more primitive weapons, such as blunderbusses, muskets, swords, and repeating crossbows.’
    • ‘Arrived outside, they collected some blunderbusses, rifles and revolvers, and took up a position behind some sandhills.’
    • ‘In addition to the fine furniture, pictures, silver and glass that one might expect, there are also fans, duelling pistols and blunderbusses, a tiger skin rug, a butcher's block, a spinning wheel, a Dun Emer carpet and sporting equipment.’
    • ‘Messengers would travel by stagecoach armed with pistols and blunderbusses, ready to shoot to kill any bandits or highwaymen.’
    • ‘I should have used a blunderbuss not a derringer.’
  • 2An action or way of doing something regarded as lacking in subtlety and precision.

    ‘economists resort too quickly to the blunderbuss of regulation’
    • ‘The key to the proper use of antibiotics is to use them like a sharp-shooting rifle and avoid any blunderbuss approach.’
    • ‘The blunderbuss approach of ordering a panel of 10 or more stains on every suspected large cell anaplastic tumor can no longer be justified economically or academically.’
    • ‘This may be criticised on a number of grounds, such as its acceptance of a blunderbuss hit and miss approach, or its presumption of guilt in relation to those whose premises were being searched.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, it seems the benefits of such a crackdown are again to be obscured by its blunderbuss approach.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, rather than considering specific solutions, opponents of spam are currently adopting a blunderbuss approach, latching on to every anti-spam technology going in the vain hope that one of them might do the job.’
    • ‘These are molecules that are targeted to specific parts of the inflammatory cascade, so they interfere very specifically with inflammation and they very often don't have the blunderbuss side effects.’
    • ‘Revenue are going after people in a blunderbuss approach without making allowances for the fact that some people have inherited this problem.’
    • ‘Is there really sufficient justification for furnishing prosecutors with such a blunderbuss?’
    • ‘Traditional chemistry uses a blunderbuss approach, based on the idea that if you produce 10,000 variations of a drug that seems to work a bit you will probably come up with something that works a bit better.’
    • ‘It may be that the councillor considers his remarks merely reflected the opinion of people in his ward, but he nevertheless mistakenly fired a blunderbuss that rubbished all 8,000 employees.’
    • ‘Currently companies are putting stuff into letter boxes using a blunderbuss approach.’
    • ‘In fact, getting selective kinase inhibitors was the hard part - looking back, had we but known, we all could have probably skipped that step and gone right to the blunderbusses.’
    • ‘Do men deserve the rap that they're emotional blunderbusses who can't communicate to save their lives, especially with female partners?’
    • ‘Smart sanctions (not the current blunderbuss kind), coercive inspections, and maintenance of the no-fly zones are the alternatives to full-blown war.’
    • ‘If people can think of better places to call, please let me know, since I realize I'm taking something of a blunderbuss approach here.’
    • ‘Lots of other people are doing similar events, ours is just a blunderbuss approach, it is not targeted.’
    • ‘That's a tough situation, and the best thing would be to find a real blunderbuss antifungal that would pitch in for all of them.’
    • ‘These are highly original thinkers, who have developed a new way of treating cancer by moving away from the blunderbuss cutting-burning-poisoning approach of modern medicine.’
    • ‘Taken together, its blunderbuss approach to law enforcement has watchdog groups growling.’
    • ‘Instead he got a policy and political blunderbuss who must not have been paying attention during the 2000 presidential campaign.’


Mid 17th century: alteration (by association with blunder) of Dutch donderbus, literally ‘thunder gun’.