Definition of torpedo in English:



  • 1A cigar-shaped self-propelled underwater missile designed to be fired from a ship or submarine or dropped into the water from an aircraft and to explode on reaching a target.

    • ‘The submarine has the capacity to carry 14 missiles and torpedoes in a mixed load.’
    • ‘The orbital missile silos started as well, firing volleys of pirion torpedoes at the ships.’
    • ‘The ADF currently uses Mk46 Mod 1 Phase 11 and Mk 46 Mod 5a torpedoes from ships and aircraft.’
    • ‘By understanding how dolphins move in the water, perhaps they could improve torpedo, ship and submarine designs.’
    • ‘Carrying submarine bombs, torpedoes and Harpoon missiles, it can offer outstanding surface and submarine detection equipment, and it has more applications than a submarine.’
    • ‘She says that most divers in the South know the wreck of HMS Hood, the battleship which was sunk in 1914 across the south ship channel of Portland Harbour to stop U-boats firing torpedoes at ships inside.’
    • ‘U.S. submarines fired 14,748 torpedoes, sinking 214 warships and 1,178 merchant vessels.’
    • ‘There had been no time to think as Matt and Jerry drove toward the harbor because the closer they got they saw the sky filled with zeros as they flew in low over the ships and dropped their torpedoes.’
    • ‘Osyss fired another volley of torpedoes at the Hybrid ship.’
    • ‘The submarine can carry up to 18 missiles or torpedoes.’
    • ‘The ship has ten torpedo tubes for 20 Vodopad-NK anti-submarine missiles or torpedoes.’
    • ‘All aircraft dropped their bombs or torpedoes over the target, but on the return leg Beaufort A9-217 lost contact with the rest of the squadron and failed to return.’
    • ‘This is guided to the submarine position where it drops a parachute-retarded torpedo, or depth charge, from a height of 400 feet.’
    • ‘The maximum weapons payload is 1,781 kg and weapon options include missiles, torpedoes, rockets and bombs.’
    • ‘Two torpedo tubes are designed for firing remote-controlled torpedoes with a very high accuracy.’
    • ‘As the torpedo reaches the closest distance to the target, a magnetic proximity fuse and an impact fuse detonates the warhead.’
    • ‘We also do not think there is anything wrong with ‘unrestricted’ submarine warfare - meaning a submarine firing its torpedoes without warning.’
    • ‘There are homing rockets, underwater torpedoes, water mines and cannon shells plus a few others to hunt down enemy boats.’
    • ‘It's about 450 feet long, longer than other attack boats due to a hull extension, and it's designed to carry torpedoes and cruise missiles.’
    • ‘The uncloaked ships fired off their torpedoes and took out a portion of the enemy fleet.’
    1. 1.1US A firework exploding on impact with a hard surface.
      • ‘He accentuates his taps with an occasional torpedo, little explosive pellets that detonate on contact, which were a lot of fun before life got so safe and sane.’
    2. 1.2US A signal placed on a railroad track, exploding as the train passes over it.
    3. 1.3informal A submarine sandwich.
    4. 1.4informal A gangster hired to commit a murder or other violent act.
    5. 1.5 An explosive device lowered into oil wells to clear obstructions.
  • 2An electric ray.

    • ‘Properties in common with electricity of the torpedo and other animals of this class are chiefly these: -’
    • ‘Those closest to the lagoon entrance offer the best chance of finding a resting leopard shark or torpedo ray, especially early in the morning.’
    • ‘Another hot star here is a resident baby torpedo ray a mere 7 ‘long.’’


  • 1Attack or sink (a ship) with a torpedo or torpedoes.

    • ‘Leading Aircraftsman Ernie Mortimer was left clinging to a piece of debris in the dark for six hours after his prison ship was torpedoed.’
    • ‘‘My dad died when his ship was torpedoed in the war when I was five,’ says Baker.’
    • ‘The ship was torpedoed at about 0530 hours on September 12.’
    • ‘Byron was killed in the second world war aged only 35, lost when his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Cape Wrath.’
    • ‘The pensioner was honoured with the Distinguished Service Medal in 1943 from King George VI after his ship was torpedoed in the Mediterranean.’
    • ‘The ashes of a woman have been placed inside the wreck of a Royal Navy ship alongside those of her long-dead hero husband who died when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat.’
    • ‘Many Allied ships were torpedoed during World War 2 by the dreaded German U-Boats, which actively patrolled up and down the Firth of Forth.’
    • ‘Tragically, on Christmas Eve, as elements of the division crossed the English Channel on board the troop ship Leopoldville, a German submarine torpedoed the ship.’
    • ‘He had been down in the engine room when his ship was torpedoed and was only just able to get out in time.’
    • ‘His ship was torpedoed and he was seriously wounded.’
    • ‘The ship that he was supposed to be on was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of all hands and kit.’
    • ‘This is a unique wreck in that the ship was originally torpedoed by U - 70, then taken in tow before breaking loose and striking Lee Ore.’
    • ‘As bad luck would have it, nine German U-boats stumbled across the manoeuvres and torpedoed the ships, sinking two ships and damaging a third.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the ship was torpedoed while still in the Baltic Sea and sank.’
    • ‘Ken and Arthur were ‘boy seamen’ aged 16 and 17 years old when the ship was torpedoed.’
    • ‘As for battle, ‘I was in the water twice,’ he would sometimes say, meaning that two of the ships he'd been on had been torpedoed or bombed and sunk.’
    • ‘The ship was torpedoed off County Donegal and the book describes the heroic and partly successful rescue attempts.’
    • ‘The Alcione C, a 54m Italian supply ship torpedoed by the Allies in 1943, stands upright on a 34m seabed.’
    • ‘No loaded American troop transports were sunk en route to Europe, although several empty vessels were torpedoed while returning to the United States.’
    • ‘The story told about a World War II German submarine that was doomed to torpedo the same ship over and over again and, in doing so, driving the submarine captain mad.’
    shell, pound, blitz, strafe, pepper, fire at, fire on, bomb
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    1. 1.1 Destroy or ruin (a plan or project)
      ‘fighting between the militias torpedoed peace talks’
      • ‘However, overly strong, untimely or uninformed opinions and input that override a well thought-out process can torpedo the best plans for no reason.’
      • ‘Success at politics seldom depends entirely upon good intentions and is often torpedoed with a single strike by matters as trivial as boyhood pranks or otherwise pardonable youthful indiscretions.’
      • ‘Since any decision to change the executive director must be made unanimously by the executive board, he or she can easily torpedo proposed changes.’
      • ‘The plans were passed by members after a marathon eight-hour debate - but campaigners are now joining forces in an attempt to torpedo the scheme.’
      • ‘His first thought was that Craig's initiative would torpedo the proposal.’
      • ‘He voted in favour of the pull-out in the Cabinet, but tried to torpedo the plan in parliament.’
      • ‘Fears over traffic congestion could torpedo plans to make a Selby transport depot the hub of a nationwide distribution network.’
      • ‘Cmgi last year torpedoed the proposed takeover of Lycos by USA Networks.’
      • ‘There are a myriad of reasons why Congress may torpedo this plan.’
      • ‘Bloomington is a small town, and any whiff of scandal would torpedo the project.’
      • ‘The best-laid program planning can be torpedoed or strengthened by the staff that plan and implement it.’
      • ‘It might have just torpedoed the project entirely - though the Mozilla project has attracted a legion of developers.’
      • ‘It also adds to the anger following last year's Government decision to torpedo plans for a massive marina, following a public inquiry.’
      • ‘We haven't even struck a jury yet, and now three of the defense strategies have been torpedoed.’
      • ‘What could torpedo these plans is if tourists as a whole cancel their winter holidays out of safety concerns or if the airlines cut capacity on transcontinental routes.’
      • ‘He voted in favor of it in the Cabinet but also tried to torpedo the plan in parliamentary maneuvers.’
      • ‘General de Gaulle who preferred a solid continental construction to a loose free trade association finally torpedoed the British initiative.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, Kutcher isn't so bad that he torpedoes the entire project.’
      • ‘Critics have charged that NASA actively torpedoed those proposals.’
      destroy, wreck, ruin, shatter, dash, crush, devastate, demolish, blast, blight, wipe out, overturn, scotch
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Early 16th century (in torpedo (sense 2 of the noun)): from Latin, literally ‘stiffness, numbness’, by extension ‘electric ray’ (which gives a shock causing numbness), from torpere ‘be numb or sluggish’. torpedo (sense 1 of the noun) dates from the late 18th century and first described a timed explosive device for detonation under water.