Definition of pistol in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈpɪst(ə)l/


1A small firearm designed to be held in one hand.
Example sentences
  • Williams was carrying a loaded air pistol in his pocket.
  • The business man agreed as he pulled out a laser pistol from his back holster.
  • Aruna pulled out a small pistol from a shoulder holster.
revolver, gun, handgun, side arm;
informal gat
North American informal piece, shooting iron, Saturday night special, rod, roscoe
trademark Colt, Webley, Luger
2US informal A very energetic or enterprising person: when we first met, he was a pistol, full of ideals and a natural leader
More example sentences
  • Matilda, who early on threatens to be a real pistol of a character, becomes the stereotypical, eccentric spinster auntie who teaches her charges useful life lessons in between subjecting them to her annoying habits and quirky behavior.
  • I knew the last surviving daughter as well and she was a pistol, married eight times, a former flapper from the Twenties.
  • She'd scale short walls. Anything to get out of that place. Not because it was so terrible. But, because she could. She was a pistol.

verb (pistols, pistolling, pistolled; US pistols, pistoling, pistoled)

[with object] dated
Shoot (someone) with a pistol.
Example sentences
  • In fact he pistolled the wounded Fraser at Culloden and the officers celebrated by splashing themselves in Highland blood.


Mid 16th century: from obsolete French pistole, from German Pistole, from Czech pišt'ala, of which the original meaning was 'whistle', hence 'a firearm' by the resemblance in shape.

  • Pistol is a rare example of an early borrowing from Czech, from pišt'ala, ‘whistle, pipe’. The Hussite Wars in the 15th century were the first wars in which hand-held guns were of significance, and it is at this time that pišt'ala was used to describe a type of gun with a clear-sounding shot. The word rapidly spread through Europe and arrived in English via French.

Words that rhyme with pistol

Bristol, Chrystal, crystal
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.