Definition of ballista in English:


Line breaks: bal|lista
Pronunciation: /bəˈlɪstə

noun (plural ballistae /-stiː/ or ballistas)

  • 1A catapult used in ancient warfare for hurling large stones.
    More example sentences
    • The two types of siege weapons were catapults and ballistae, with catapults being the predecessor (Iannuzzo).
    • The player can use catapults, battering rams, ballistas and ancient ‘elevators’.
    • Caesar covered his landing in Britain with catapults and ballistas.
  • 1.1A large crossbow used in ancient warfare for firing a spear.
    More example sentences
    • Nadia spotted a group of men hauling out a huge ballista, a gigantic crossbow on wheels.
    • 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.


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

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a small amount; a little