Definition of gun in English:



  • 1A weapon incorporating a metal tube from which bullets, shells, or other missiles are propelled by explosive force, typically making a characteristic loud, sharp noise.

    • ‘Frank will have access to 18 separate weapons, ranging from pistols and rifles to submachine guns and shotguns.’
    • ‘They have high-speed capabilities, can reach Mach three, and are armed with only air-to-air missiles and guns.’
    • ‘It was normal gun with metal bullets, but the speed at which he pulled the trigger was amazing.’
    • ‘Weapons will primarily consist of pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles and projectile launchers.’
    • ‘Range threat systems simulate the tracking systems of enemy missiles and guns and are used to train pilots to evade the tracking systems.’
    • ‘Another major difference is the shift from guns to missiles as the primary weapon.’
    • ‘There are a selection of rifles, submachine guns, heavy weapons, and pistols.’
    • ‘The missiles and guns on an aircraft present several hazards to personnel and equipment during loading and when power is applied to the aircraft.’
    • ‘They said they would conduct random checks of passengers' luggage to look for guns, sharp weapons or bomb materials.’
    • ‘The protrusions are massive guns and missiles - the metal monster is carrying enough artillery to level a small town.’
    • ‘In the course of the film there are lots of bullets, guns, explosions and general mess as supermarket shelves are shot to bits, although nobody appears to die.’
    • ‘Then, with a loud explosion, the gun fired, and smoke filled the tunnel.’
    • ‘The Warrior adapts to a range of roles with weapon fits ranging from machine pistols to 90 mm guns, mortars and missile systems.’
    • ‘Police, some walking arm-in-arm and others riding horseback down the city's streets, used tear gas and guns loaded with rubber bullets and bean bags.’
    • ‘As silently as he possibly can, he fills his gun with bullets and revolves it, preparing to take aim.’
    • ‘Most of the shells fired by artillery guns were high explosive shells which could throw shrapnel over a wide distance in the trenches.’
    • ‘The police have been equipped with water cannon, attack dogs, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullet guns.’
    • ‘Shotguns, air pistols, ball-bearing guns and a revolver with about 60 rounds of ammunition had been handed in to local police stations by Wednesday.’
    • ‘The threat from all types of firearms, be it a real gun, a replica weapon or an airgun is increasing and action must be taken now.’
    • ‘The defence of coastal towns and installations has been a task for artillery for 500 years, and the characteristics of the gun have shaped the design of the fort.’
    1. 1.1A device for discharging a particular object or substance in a required direction.
      ‘a grease gun’
      • ‘At a public hearing last week, speakers against the proposal outnumbered the supporters and criticized the use of traps and bolt guns as cruel.’
      • ‘We continue this Thurs evening, Nov 20, with a further portrait session, this time using members' own flash guns.’
      • ‘Irrigation is available from a borehole and water is applied with a rain gun as required.’
    2. 1.2A starting pistol used in athletics.
      • ‘The way-out wacky races with the finish line at the second Scottish parliament election on May 1 sees the starting gun fired with a busy September.’
      • ‘The starting gun was sounded by Evan's grandfather James Tiernan.’
      • ‘The starting gun may not have been fired officially, but the election is under way.’
      • ‘The race for the White House In just eight days, the starting gun will fire for America's presidential election 2000.’
      • ‘The starting gun sends camels bolting forth in a graceful blur, then a long-stride gallop that is as precise as a quarter-horse trot.’
      • ‘On the extreme left, crouching low, its arms hanging near its feet, was an ape; it looked intent, like an athlete waiting for the gun to go off.’
      • ‘It will bring an end to the longest-running saga in the spirits sector but also fire the starting gun on another round of brand-swapping.’
      • ‘No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.’
      • ‘Fortunately, nations capable of running at the crack of the starting gun are providing the U.N. the time necessary to find its shoes.’
      • ‘At drop off the teacher shoots a starting gun and I sprint from the building and peel out of the parking lot to go and do things.’
      • ‘Once they reveal who's in, the starting gun cracks on the biggest American sweepstake, with every office of two people or more stashing a few bucks on one of the entrants.’
      • ‘The starting gun was sounded last week to launch the presidential election campaign in Chechnya.’
      • ‘The tinkle of the bell as the door opens pistols me as though it were a starting gun.’
      • ‘She would probably have won even more, but for being disqualified in 1995 for taking a step out of her lane just after the starting gun went.’
      • ‘Open moor to a horse is as good as a starting gun: they know the places they usually gallop, and most will gallop them whether you like it or not.’
      • ‘It's as if we are waiting for a starting gun to signal us to go.’
      • ‘The news was like a starting gun to the physics world.’
      • ‘As the starting gun barked out the release of pent-up energy, each triathlete fought for his or her personal space in the sea of bodies.’
      • ‘The Resurrection was the starting gun and the return of Christ is the final whistle.’
      • ‘Last Saturday, the first race under the new name took place at Sparrows Den, in West Wickham, with Will's mother Jan firing the starting gun.’
    3. 1.3The firing of a piece of artillery as a salute or signal.
      ‘the boom of the one o'clock gun echoed across the river’
      • ‘Alighting from the plane at an air base near Islamabad, Zhu was received by Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf as 19 guns boomed to salute him.’
      • ‘A normal royal gun salute is 21 guns, but that was increased to 41, because it was fired from a royal residence.’
      • ‘Omitting the first few isotopes in the decay series would be like removing the first few guns in our ‘salute’.’
      • ‘Although more and more ships and boats were coming to anchor in the Huangpu, two old signal guns were still in use to manage the shipping so that boats could enter and leave the port in good order.’
    4. 1.4North American A gunman.
      ‘a hired gun’
      armed robber, hold-up man, bandit, gangster, terrorist, gunfighter
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5British A member of a shooting party.
      • ‘The place is badly broken down by the guns of the other party, so that unless they have hasty help, they are likely to lose both their lives and the place, which will be the greatest rebuke to you that ever came to any gentleman.’
    6. 1.6nautical slang, dated Used as a nickname for a ship's gunnery officer.
  • 2informal Muscular arms; well-developed biceps muscles.

    ‘it's encouraging to note that Schwarzenegger wasn't born with massive guns’
    • ‘It's time to stop daydreaming and make those huge guns a reality!’
    • ‘Saturday brought out the men, and Bentson easily took first place by curling 85 pounds for 63 reps with his massive guns.’
    • ‘A successful competitive bodybuilder, the 6'1" 225-pounder relies on his symmetry and enormous guns come contest time.’
    • ‘In this manic pursuit of huge guns, way too many trainees neglect their forearms.’
    • ‘Keep in mind that massive guns, huge pecs, and rock-hard delts are just some of the benefits of using these products in your program!’
    • ‘Like new students of body-building, he is so focused on getting big guns and eye-popping pecs that he forgets all about his lower half.’
    • ‘He'll be flexing his guns alongside Mark Wahlberg in "Pain and Gain."’
    • ‘When these two armed and dangerous men flex their guns, muscle meets cotton in a battle of supremacy, and the smart money is with the muscle.’
    • ‘Although most guys would be thrilled to have huge guns, for amateur body-builder Ron, his 23-inch arms were a curse in disguise.’
    • ‘Everybod had their eyes riveted on his 22-inch guns.’


  • 1Shoot someone with a gun.

    ‘they were gunned down by masked snipers’
    • ‘As far as she was concerned that was why they were gunned down in unexplained circumstances within a few days of each other.’
    • ‘Canada said good-bye this week to four brave men whose lives were only just beginning when they were gunned down in a senseless act of violence in Mayerthorpe, Alberta.’
    • ‘If the soul died when Marvin Gaye was gunned down by his father, then it was reborn in this generation of young hip hop-influenced musicians and vocalists.’
    • ‘The fun stopped when his cousin Jesse was gunned down in 1994.’
    • ‘One minute people were going about their everyday shopping, the next they were gunned down by lumbering mannequins with firearms concealed within their drop-down wrists.’
    • ‘While we're talking about Syria, there is a report today that a Hamas leader in Damascus was gunned down, was killed.’
    • ‘It was also in this battle that Barayev was gunned down.’
    • ‘It is six months this week since her husband and soulmate Brian was brutally gunned down as he changed a tyre on his car at the Huddersfield garage where he worked.’
    • ‘The real-life criminal was gunned down as he sat in his car waiting at traffic lights in Ranelagh August 18, 1994.’
    • ‘If they did not ‘disappear’ it was because they had been gunned down in public or tortured and killed.’
    • ‘The widow, whose husband Eddie was gunned down in the Moose Bar in 2000, revealed she was upset by the descriptions of her sons in some Sunday newspapers.’
    • ‘Despite the uniforms, even the knowledge of who these men are, they are gunned down without hesitation.’
    • ‘Wire services reported that two policemen were gunned down in north Baghdad.’
    • ‘Indeed, two of them were not even involved in the demonstrations that resulted in the tragedy but were peacefully walking across campus when they were gunned down.’
    • ‘The victims, both believed to be in their thirties, are thought to have been inside the premises when they were gunned down.’
    • ‘But we're not sure of the circumstances, whether they were - whether they were killed in the firefight or whether they were gunned down in some other kind of more devious ambush.’
    • ‘Chandra was gunned down as she entered her car in the car park of Langmore Health Clinic Foundation in Palmyra, San Fernando.’
    • ‘A policewoman was dead last night and another was seriously injured after they were gunned down during an armed robbery at a travel agents in Bradford.’
    • ‘Days later, Gregg was gunned down near Belfast docks as he returned from a Glasgow Rangers football match.’
    • ‘She was six years old when Lennon was gunned down.’
    shoot, shoot down, mow down, hit, wound, injure, cut down, bring down
    put a bullet in, pick off, bag, fell, kill
    execute, put before a firing squad
    pot, blast, pump full of lead, plug, zap
    View synonyms
  • 2informal Cause (an engine) to race.

    ‘as Neil gunned the engine the boat jumped forward’
    • ‘I gunned the engine at the fifth red light I came upon, and was tempted to go through the red light, but a low rumble stopped me.’
    • ‘The 30 mph limit was disregarded in the euphoria of being able to gun an engine again.’
    • ‘The pair only just survived them, gunning their engines to get over the lip and come flying out the other side (giving thanks to God as they did so).’
    • ‘That afternoon, I must have driven the back roads for half an hour, and only after gunning the engine on the downhill stretch of Highway 10 and circling around our land on the gravel farm road did I remember Nate.’
    • ‘She gave Erin a wave and, gunning the quad's engine, sped away.’
    • ‘I heard him gunning the engine on his pickup and squealing out of the driveway.’
    • ‘Then he was back in the cockpit, gunning the engine, pointing the nose up and soaring over the telephone wires.’
    • ‘The door whooshed shut, and the bus's tires skidded on the gravel driveway as the driver gunned the engine.’
    • ‘He gunned the engine and sped away from Darren's house.’
    • ‘So this gentleman pulls up next to me, gunning his engine for all he's worth.’
    • ‘I whipped the Ferrari into the courtyard, gunning the engine.’
    • ‘I was still putting on my helmet when David gunned his engine, leaving Kelvin and I in a cloud of dust.’
    • ‘He ran over to his BMW and climbed in, gunning the engine, and speeding down the driveway.’
    • ‘Many of them, heedless of the no-wake zone that they were in, were gunning their engines, kicking up huge wakes as they headed straight for us.’
    • ‘Gingerly gunning the engine, I swung out onto the interstate, no lights.’
    • ‘I was in terrible pain, but was worried about my friends, so I started gunning the engine.’
    • ‘He guns the engine and gels away from them, sweeping up to the front door and locking up the brakes in a skid.’
    • ‘He gunned his engine, and bullied the schooner through, scraping bottom.’
    • ‘He guns the engines, only to realise that the plane is too big to get through the hangar doors.’
    • ‘He brakes once more, guns the engine a final time - and we race off across the roof of the Big Top, the floor dizzyingly far below, and come to a screaming stop, high above the ground on the far side.’
    1. 2.1[with object and adverbial of direction]Accelerate (a vehicle)
      ‘he gunned the car away from the kerb’
      • ‘Giving the driver a nod, the truck gunned it, and sped back onto the more secure skidder tail.’
      • ‘She gunned her bike once more and set her goal on getting down there quickly as possible.’
      • ‘Tom Frantzen guns his four-wheeler across the farmyard, a cart full of empty feed buckets rattling behind.’
      • ‘I gunned the cycle and popped a wheelie before driving out to the desert.’
      • ‘Motivated by this thought, Isis gunned her hover cycle before taking off.’
      • ‘I couldn't get comfortable, the dreams were bad, my neighbor was gunning his motorcycle again.’
      • ‘I shook my head no, and Kass laughed, gunning the truck away from home.’
      • ‘It took only a second to decide it was time to move on, but when Andrew gunned the BMW towards a small opening between the bikes, the gap closed up.’
      • ‘He surveyed the streets, gunning the car up one of San Francisco's steep hills.’
      • ‘Grabbing his jacket, he ran out the door and into his truck, throwing it into reverse, then drive and gunning it down the road away from that prison he had to stay at.’
      • ‘‘It is something like gunning a car constantly,’ she says.’
      • ‘Instead he gunned the car and when the light changed, took off down the road.’
      • ‘As fast as she could gun the car without being pulled over, she rushed from the airport to the monolithic Apath building.’
      • ‘They gun the boat towards the fish and ease off just before they get too near them.’
      • ‘With one last glance back, both to the accelerating cop and his four friends behind him, he gunned it.’
      • ‘He guns the car out of the parking lot and, because there is no traffic blocking his path, he drives unhindered straight up the road and away.’
      • ‘He had already gunned the little car; at once it lost traction on the gravel.’
      • ‘Jonno is down below about to start, when he screams at me to gun the boat.’
      • ‘Most days the cobbled streets and piazzas of the town are chock-full of delivery vans, family Fiats and boy racers gunning their small-engined Vespas.’


  • be gunning for

    • 1Be seeking an opportunity to blame or attack (someone)

      ‘the Republican candidate was gunning for his rival over campaign payments’
      • ‘But now, again, we are the team everyone is gunning for.’
      • ‘Everyone is going to be gunning for England because they are undisputed as the best in the world.’
      • ‘I made the mistake of publicly attacking a leading politician on the radio and they have been gunning for me ever since.’
      • ‘Check the name of the guy they were gunning for in the tower.’
      • ‘But I realized soon after that I was taking the wrong path and wanted to change so I tried to get back into school but it seemed that the teachers were gunning for me so I thought it best to just be done with that.’
      • ‘Widower Henry Wooding, who served in North Africa and Italy, claimed that the council was gunning for disabled motorists since taking over responsibility for policing parking from Essex Police last year.’
      • ‘This is sensible in the short run, because any suggestion that the government was gunning for the motorist would kill off the debate.’
      • ‘More than the media, it's the fact that obviously there are elements of the New South Wales right of the Liberal Party that were gunning for him and that were doing their best to get it out there.’
      • ‘Tipperary will be gunning for us, but we'll go out and give them one hell of a game.’
      1. 1.1Be striving for (something) in a determined way.
        ‘he had been gunning for a place in the squad’
        • ‘An impulse buy, claims the 30-year-old, but the car met the ‘suitably obnoxious’ criteria that he was gunning for - and it allowed him to indulge his love for driving fast.’
        • ‘But this is what I've been gunning for all my life.’
        • ‘Don't be fooled by the sprawling and overdone psychedelic ballads - this is the same boy band that was gunning for the pre-pubescent market only two years ago.’
        • ‘You would too if 12,000 people were gunning for your job.’
        • ‘But to fair (and I have no idea if this is what they were gunning for, but I'm guessing no), this album is pretty depressing, precisely because it's so naively bright and rosy.’
        • ‘Africa's top eight clubs will be gunning for a good deal of money and a piece of football history.’
        • ‘Business units hate charge-backs because they want computing to come out of IT's budget, no matter how big a project the business unit is gunning for.’
        • ‘The party is gunning for at least 40 seats, which could make the Congress depend on it for forming the government.’
        • ‘Even at 49 with more than 50 career victories and one NASCAR cup championship, Wallace is gunning for victory lane.’
        • ‘Also, with a game based on a movie, mass appeal will be something that the developers will be gunning for.’
  • big gun

    • informal An important or powerful person.

      celebrity, famous person, very important person, personality, name, big name, famous name, household name, star, superstar, celebutante, leading light, mogul, giant, great, master, king, guru
      View synonyms
  • go great guns

    • informal Proceed forcefully, vigorously, or successfully.

      ‘the film industry has been going great guns recently’
      • ‘The mint is also going great guns after a shaky start, and the oregano plant which amounted to nothing last year has come into it's own and is crowding out the chives which share it's tub.’
      • ‘Our double-act show went great guns, and we had a few walkouts.’
      • ‘A glance at your local directory will confirm that dance studios, schools and danceware suppliers are going great guns and whether you wish to learn classical ballet or belly dancing, you will find someone to teach you.’
      • ‘I started the fossil trail - that's going great guns.’
      • ‘She's going great guns, building night and day; making things work that just shouldn't, until she tells the principal what she's doing in an effort to explain skipping class.’
      • ‘There's a new smokehouse operation that's going great guns.’
      • ‘They were going great guns until my husband tried to turn the plane and it wouldn't turn.’
      • ‘Gala's early attempts at intimidating the ‘city boys’ went great guns, with feet raking aplenty in the rucks.’
      • ‘Nine years on, not only have savings in personal pensions fallen dramatically, but company pensions, which were going great guns in 1997, are now also on their knees.’
      • ‘My piano lessons were going great guns, so I thought this put me in the elite and obviously endeavored to impress my teacher and probably my parents.’
      prosper, do well, get on well, go well, fare well
      thrive, flourish, flower, bloom, burgeon, blossom
      boom, expand, spread, pick up, improve, come on
      succeed, be successful, make it, do all right for oneself, get ahead, progress, make progress, make headway, advance, get on in the world, go up in the world, arrive, fly high, make one's mark, make good, become rich, strike gold, strike oil, be in clover
      go places, make the big time, be in the pink, be fine and dandy
      make good speed
      View synonyms
  • in the gun

    • informal In trouble; likely to attract punishment or blame.

      ‘don't get caught or we'll all be in the gun’
      • ‘Wind farms are in the gun again.’
      • ‘He has been in the gun from the world drugs agency.’
      • ‘It was never going to be pretty and it isn't—at least not if you are in the gun for the latest round of job cuts.’
      • ‘They scared me, so I told the truth and we were all in the gun.’
      • ‘What is the point of becoming a volunteer when we're going to be in the gun if things go wrong?’
      • ‘The drug companies are in the gun for keeping their research records under lock and key.’
      • ‘Planning officers were in the gun for a report to councillors on the company's plan to take some airspace to expand its convention centre that left out critical comments.’
      • ‘The big companies are in the gun at the moment.’
      • ‘The party is in the gun over bus shelter ads.’
      • ‘In the gun first are the unemployed; from October unemployed people will be forced into 'community work' for twenty hours a week.’
  • jump the gun

    • informal Act before the proper or appropriate time.

      • ‘There's a lot of sense in what he says, but I think he jumps the gun on this one.’
      • ‘Councillor Rowen is jumping the gun, as we haven't even decided if we're adopting the scheme.’
      • ‘While you've been worried about discretion, caution and not jumping the gun, however, your ‘friend’ has been thinking about how to lure you closer.’
      • ‘I think that, at this point, anything is jumping the gun, other than saying he's the most logical suspect and all the evidence does point to him right now.’
      • ‘The atmosphere is tense, police and coastguards are on hand to make sure nobody jumps the gun.’
      • ‘It's only been here a week and when we got it I thought I was jumping the gun, but it's so cheerful and pretty and elegant in it's dark green velvety majesty, turning one end of my livingroom into the dark, mysterious winter forest.’
      • ‘There's been some criticism that he's jumping the gun here and trying to look more presidential before there's a concession or anything like that.’
      • ‘While I could be jumping the gun - the night is still young - it now appears that their final answer is: They were talking about a car.’
      • ‘But are politicians jumping the gun with plans to stop it?’
      • ‘If not, maybe you are jumping the gun and are actually feeling uncomfortable about the situation yourself, not about what other people are thinking.’
      act prematurely, act too soon, be overhasty, be precipitate
      be previous, be ahead of oneself
      View synonyms
    • informal

      see gun
      act prematurely, act too soon, be overhasty, be precipitate
      View synonyms
  • stick to one's guns

    • informal Refuse to compromise or change, despite criticism.

      • ‘She is sticking to her guns and point blank refusing to send him anywhere else.’
      • ‘He's his own man, doesn't compromise his principles to achieve cheap popularity, but sticks to his guns.’
      • ‘Women now also recognise the need to stick to their guns when they are criticised by men.’
      • ‘Despite the criticism, the archbishop stuck to his guns.’
      • ‘Management staff from both teams pleaded with him to continue but he stuck to his guns and abandoned the National Conference One fixture.’
      • ‘It made him think that force was a suitable way of dealing with tricky problems, and that if you stuck to your guns and ploughed on, you would end up as a hero.’
      • ‘He stuck to his guns and again insisted he could do nothing to help himself.’
      • ‘He will stick to his guns, despite all the mounting evidence.’
      • ‘Labour MPs determined to shoot down controversial plans for variable university top-up fees are poised to stick to their guns, despite last-ditch compromise proposals from the Government.’
      • ‘Peers should be open to compromise, but they should also stick to their guns on the important issues.’
      persevere, continue, carry on, go on, keep at it, keep on, keep going, keep it up, not give up, be persistent, be determined, follow something through, see something through, show determination, press ahead, press on, plod on, plough on, stay with something, not take no for an answer
      View synonyms
    • informal

      see gun
  • top gun

    • informal The most important or powerful person in a particular sphere.

      • ‘A magnificent effort from her which shows she can certainly mix it with the top guns and a little bit more luck with the putter and she could pull out a big win.’
      • ‘However when it comes to a knockout competition, there are always surprises and as always some of the top guns will be making their exit in the opening rounds with last year's finalists Desmonds and Duagh meeting in the first round.’
      • ‘When we come back, some surprising words about the press from one of the top guns at 1600 Pennsylvania.’
      • ‘But in order to be top gun in 2004, he has to topple the deficits, topple the rise in unemployment, topple the rising cost of health insurance, topple rising crimes.’
      • ‘Before the presidential candidates go head to head, two of their campaign top guns will give us a sense of what to expect tonight.’
      • ‘However, she said that what foreign companies are interested in are the top guns who are familiar with both international and national financial practices.’
      • ‘The important thing to remember is that while the men are out there brimming with testosterone, striving to be top guns, you can set off your beauty against some of the most glorious vistas nature has to offer.’
      • ‘And after savouring the taste of a showdown with the Premiership's top guns in the Worthington Cup, Cox is ready for more challenges in what he described as ‘the greatest cup in the world’.’
      • ‘This week the network sent their top guns to the region to report on the storm's three-month anniversary.’
      • ‘It is the familiar tale of a weary professional challenged by a cocky upstart determined to prove himself as top gun.’
  • under the gun

    • informal Under great pressure.

      ‘manufacturers are under the gun to offer alternatives’
      • ‘How many times are you as the operator under the gun to complete a facility project where your primary concern is having it done before camp opens?’
      • ‘It never fails when you make plans to tackle something, or are under the gun with pressure, something or everything jumps in your way trying to prevent you from making that goal.’
      • ‘The fact is, I will try to get few things blogged tomorrow, but for the next month I am going to be seriously under the gun and just don't have time for much comments box chatter.’
      • ‘Apologies for anything that strikes you as hideously substandard; I've been under the gun for a few weeks with no rest in sight.’
      • ‘Here, they seem to be put under the gun, I think, quite severely.’
      • ‘Clearly, since they're under the gun, they're not going to pick a totally unqualified flunky.’
      • ‘And I learned the rapper, who never is shy about speaking his mind, isn't backing down, even if he is under the gun.’
      • ‘And the Army Corps of Engineers is under the gun to explain why it's taking so long to repair the breaches in the levee that's keeping most of the city under water.’
      • ‘Sources say the Pentagon is under the gun to trim $10 billion from next year's budget, and as much as $60 billion in defense spending over the next six years.’
      • ‘Testing has changed the curriculum, because teachers know they are under the gun and administrators know their schools are going to be ranked and that parents look at those scores when choosing schools.’


Middle English gunne, gonne, perhaps from a pet form of the Scandinavian name Gunnhildr, from gunnr + hildr, both meaning war.