Definition of ballista in English:



  • 1A catapult used in ancient warfare for hurling large stones.

    • ‘Torsion and counterpoise engines of war - ballistae and trebuchets - could be made in situ with local materials - timber and fibre.’
    • ‘Another was a hover tank chassis with a ballista mounted on top.’
    • ‘The pirates were closing; the ballista was being cranked and reloaded.’
    • ‘Caesar covered his landing in Britain with catapults and ballistas.’
    • ‘The parapets of the tower lined with ancient ballista, pots of boiling oil, and Vulcan AA cannon.’
    • ‘It was during an unfortunate incident that involved a ballista.’
    • ‘Nothing is more satisfying than wheeling a ballista over and taking down their garrison.’
    • ‘If we try to attack the Canines at a range, then they run at us before we can adjust our bows, ballista, or catapults sights.’
    • ‘The player can use catapults, battering rams, ballistas and ancient ‘elevators’.’
    • ‘Watch out for stray ballista bolts, javelins etc, and avoid all the experimental kilns as they tend to explode.’
    • ‘Gone are the automated ballistae and arrow towers from Heroes of Might and Magic III.’
    • ‘It was more of a fortress, with ballistae and cannons ruling the top, and bridges, which connected the five towers.’
    • ‘Mom and Dad hurried to the hallway, leaving my brother and me to engage in covert anarchy, spoons engaged as shiny ballistae.’
    • ‘The two types of siege weapons were catapults and ballistae, with catapults being the predecessor (Iannuzzo).’
    • ‘Catapults of the Middle Ages were divided into two major groups: ballistas, and trebuchets.’
    • ‘Unconventional contrivances and machina arcana include a range of desktop siege weapons including miniature trebuchets, ballistae, and mangonels.’
    • ‘I watched a ballista being fired and was impressed by the sheer power and accuracy.’
    • ‘The words shot from his mouth like stones from a ballista.’
    • ‘Elven archers and Republic ballistas that fired masses of mid-size rocks to bombard an area inflicted all the damage they could on the enemy ranged fighters.’
    • ‘Others set up massive ballistae some distance from the defenders, and began pelting them with heavy bolts of solid iron.’
    1. 1.1A large crossbow for firing a spear.
      • ‘The ballista was, in essence, a giant crossbow.’
      • ‘With the ballistae, however, they hoped to launch flaming spears into the sails of their enemy, slowing them down.’
      • ‘Using this momentary respite, I wrenched the sword blade from the ballistae.’
      • ‘Nadia spotted a group of men hauling out a huge ballista, a gigantic crossbow on wheels.’
      • ‘Using the spikes of his ballista, all tied up into a belt, Ryud holstered it up to his shoulders, intending it to shield his charge.’


Early 16th century: from Latin, based on Greek ballein to throw.