Definition of pistol in English:



  • 1A small firearm designed to be held in one hand.

    • ‘The glint of the silenced pistol was seen as Timothy drew out the weapon.’
    • ‘Miss Dando's killer used a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.’
    • ‘The business man agreed as he pulled out a laser pistol from his back holster.’
    • ‘There's nowhere to run… but there's a .40 caliber pistol in your hand.’
    • ‘In his hand he carried a pistol which was pointed at Carter.’
    • ‘Jay stood back up and pulled out his small emergency laser pistol.’
    • ‘Each vehicle should be assigned an M9 pistol.’
    • ‘Each man had a pistol on his right hip and a shotgun of his back.’
    • ‘He quickly opened the door to his apartment and ran into it with his .45 caliber pistol in hand.’
    • ‘She aimed the loaded pistol at the officer who looked up with a startled expression.’
    • ‘Taking direct fire, and outnumbered, he pressed forward, firing his M9 pistol at enemy forces.’
    • ‘In addition, most Rangers had one or more single-shot flintlock pistols of varied design and manufacture.’
    • ‘My grandmother carried a loaded pistol in her purse.’
    • ‘He was then apparently detained by palace staff but drew a 9mm pistol and shot himself in the head.’
    • ‘Aruna pulled out a small pistol from a shoulder holster.’
    • ‘Williams was carrying a loaded air pistol in his pocket.’
    • ‘Caine drew his pistol from its holster and leveled its muzzle at the approaching Carey.’
    • ‘Historically, the Walther PP was the first commercially successful double-action semiautomatic pistol.’
    • ‘Only that and the dull metallic sheen of the flintlock pistol clutched firmly in his hand.’
    • ‘A figure in the shadows behind a dumpster aimed a Swiss automatic pistol.’
    revolver, gun, handgun, side arm
    View synonyms
  • 2US informal A very energetic or enterprising person.

    ‘when we first met, he was a pistol, full of ideals and a natural leader’
    • ‘This gal is really a pistol...She wants everything.’
    • ‘"Megan's a pistol, a real spitfire," says Cartwright, who, besides Bart, voices five other male dudes on the decade-old "Simpsons".’
    • ‘"He drove his clients crazy but they loved him to death," says his younger brother, Andrew. "He was a pistol."’
    • ‘Matilda, who early on threatens to be a real pistol of a character, becomes the stereotypical, eccentric spinster auntie who teaches her charges useful life lessons in between subjecting them to her annoying habits and quirky behavior.’
    • ‘My daughter Maria is 8 years old and she's a pistol.’
    • ‘I knew the last surviving daughter as well and she was a pistol, married eight times, a former flapper from the Twenties.’
    • ‘"She never backed down," Corio said. "She was a pistol."’
    • ‘She'd scale short walls. Anything to get out of that place. Not because it was so terrible. But, because she could. She was a pistol.’
    • ‘That 94-year-old grandmother is the subject of the article, and apparently she's a pistol.’


[with object]dated
  • Shoot (someone) with a pistol.

    • ‘In fact he pistolled the wounded Fraser at Culloden and the officers celebrated by splashing themselves in Highland blood.’


Mid 16th century: from obsolete French pistole, from German Pistole, from Czech pišt'ala, of which the original meaning was ‘whistle’, hence ‘a firearm’ by the resemblance in shape.