Definition of derringer in US English:



  • A small pistol that has a large bore and is very effective at close range.

    • ‘But apparently, he already had his left hand on his backup gun, a derringer, in a pocket.’
    • ‘I'd been to the pistol range the day before and completely forgotten the derringer in the back pocket of my purse.’
    • ‘With her help, they stockpiled an arsenal of shotguns, derringer pistols and an old AK - 47.’
    • ‘Left alone, Jade finished polishing the derringer, then instead of placing it by her side she placed it in a velvet-lined case and closed the lid.’
    • ‘The bullet from the derringer missed Anita's face by just a few inches.’


Mid 19th century: named after Henry Deringer (1786–1868), the American gunsmith who invented it.