Definition of catapult in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkadəˌpəlt/


1A device in which accumulated tension is suddenly released to hurl an object some distance, in particular.
1.1 historical A military machine worked by a lever and ropes for hurling large stones or other missiles.
Example sentences
  • Indeed Archimedes was famous for his application of the law of the lever to the construction of catapults for military purposes.
  • Longer-ranged weapons (bows and arrows, catapults, artillery, and, later, guided missiles) allowed armies to fire deadlier rounds from greater distances.
  • They were besieged by opposing armies using towers, battering rams, catapults, and flame weapons.
1.2A mechanical device for launching a glider or other aircraft, especially from the deck of a ship.
Example sentences
  • Her 1.8-hectare flight deck is 333m long, 78m wide and has four catapults and four aircraft lifts.
  • There were no catapults for launching aircraft or hangar deck for storage and workshops.
  • With the Greyhound shuddering and jolting, the pilot inches the aircraft across the deck towards the waiting catapult.
1.3chiefly British A slingshot.
Example sentences
  • Last year a man lost the sight in his left eye after he answered a knock at his door and was hit by a stone fired from a catapult.
  • It is believed the children may have used a catapult to fire the stone.
  • The demonstrations descended into a confrontation between the police firing rubber bullets, tear gas and, reportedly, live rounds, and the youths throwing stones and using catapults.


[with object]
1Hurl or launch (something) in a specified direction with or as if with a catapult: the plane was refueled and catapulted back into the air again the explosion catapulted the car 30 yards along the road figurative their music catapulted them to the top of the charts
More example sentences
  • The song, the first tune to be played on Radio 1 when it was launched in 1967, catapulted the group to stardom.
  • Two hours of original script and music catapult the audience through the very best and freshest Northern Irish exportable wit.
  • One car even catapulted a telegraph pole into her house in the latest collision at the weekend.
1.1 [no object] Move suddenly or at great speed as though hurled by a catapult: the horse catapulted away from the fence
More example sentences
  • Inverness finished sixth, fourth and sixth in the First Division, before suddenly catapulting into title contention with a very, very good run this year.
  • Had I suddenly found myself catapulted forward in time to Christmas?
  • Ian was amazed at the speed at which he had catapulted back to reality.


Late 16th century: from French catapulte or Latin catapulta, from Greek katapeltēs, from kata- 'down' + pallein 'hurl'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cat·a·pult

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