Definition of catapult in English:


Line breaks: cata|pult
Pronunciation: /ˈkatəpʌlt


1British A forked stick with an elastic band fastened to the two prongs, used by children for shooting small stones.
More 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.
North American slingshot;
Australian/New Zealand shanghai
2 historical A military machine worked by a lever and ropes for hurling large stones or other missiles.
More 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.
3A mechanical device for launching a glider or other aircraft, especially from the deck of a ship.
More 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.


[with object and adverbial of direction] Back to top  
1Hurl or launch (something) with or as if with a catapult: 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, with adverbial of direction] 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'.

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