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ballistic Syllabification: bal·lis·tic
Pronunciation: /bəˈlistik/

Definition of ballistic in English:


1Of or relating to projectiles or their flight.
Example sentences
  • The vehicle system is a turreted, armored, all-wheel drive vehicle that provides increased ballistic and land mine protection.
  • Mounted onto a stock with the addition of a winch, ratchet apparatus, and trigger mechanism, much further distances and much greater ballistic forces were achieved.
  • This complete loss of memory after 0.1 ps reduces the amount of ballistic motion of atoms inside a void.
2Moving under the force of gravity only.
Example sentences
  • At that point the fuel to the rocket was cut off and the missile coasted along its ballistic trajectory to the target.
  • Most of a spacecraft's flight is ballistic, that is, it is not powered but is pulled by gravity, with engines needed for course corrections.
  • Mortars are ballistic weapons that have projectile trajectories undistorted by rocket engine or guidance system.


go ballistic
informal Fly into a rage.
Example sentences
  • I went ballistic and fired off a letter demanding a retraction of the fees.
  • A platoon of sci-fi marines are dropped into hostile territory, seething with aliens, and they go ballistic.
  • He brought everything but the Colman's mustard, and I went ballistic.


Pronunciation: /-ik(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • The scene in the room was not properly preserved, the weapon involved was not ballistically tested and the bullet casing went missing.
  • The bomb falls ballistically and we drop it so that even if there's no laser spot it's going to drop pretty close to the target.
  • He will tell us, according to sources, that these three shootings are linked ballistically.


Late 18th century: from ballista + -ic.

  • Two ancient engines of war, a catapult for hurling large stones and a large crossbow firing a spear, were each known as a ballista. The Latin source, ballista, from Greek ballein ‘to throw’, gave us ballistic. As a technical term this dates from the 18th century, but it only became widely known in the mid 20th century with the development of the ballistic missile, a missile which is initially powered and guided but falls under gravity on to its target. In the 1980s to go ballistic began to be used meaning ‘to fly into a rage’.

Definition of ballistic in:
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