Definition of missile in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmisəl/


1An object that is forcibly propelled at a target, either by hand or from a mechanical weapon.
Example sentences
  • The riot squad and two water cannons were deployed after missiles were thrown.
  • The rest involved equipment vandalism and missiles thrown at trains.
  • The man's companions threw flasks and other missiles to ward it off.
1.1A weapon that is self-propelled or directed by remote control, carrying a conventional or nuclear explosive.
Example sentences
  • He can sell missiles and even nuclear material to other dubious states.
  • Here at last was a set of fires as massive and extensive as any that might be generated by nuclear missiles.
  • That could entail the deployment of ships carrying the interceptor missiles in the Sea of Japan.


Early 17th century (as an adjective in the sense 'suitable for throwing (at a target)'): from Latin missile, neuter (used as a noun) of missilis, from miss- 'sent', from the verb mittere.

  • The root of missile is a form of Latin mittere ‘to send’, found also in words such as dismiss (Late Middle English) and message. The earliest missiles were gifts, such as sweets, thrown to crowds by Roman emperors. From there the word came to mean, in the 1650s, an object which is forcibly propelled at a target—the modern sense of a rocket or similar weapon is first found in 1945. Mission (mid 16th century) is also from Latin mittere. Mission: Impossible was an American TV series that was first shown between 1966 and 1973, and in 1996 used as the basis of a film of the same name.

Words that rhyme with missile


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mis·sile

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