The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Gun \Gun\ (g[u^]n), n. [OE. gonne, gunne; of uncertain origin;
cf. Ir., Gael., & LL. gunna, W. gum; possibly (like cannon)
fr. L. canna reed, tube; or abbreviated fr. OF. mangonnel, E.
mangonel, a machine for hurling stones.]
1. A weapon which throws or propels a missile to a distance;
any firearm or instrument for throwing projectiles,
consisting of a tube or barrel closed at one end, in which
the projectile is placed, with an explosive charge (such
as guncotton or gunpowder) behind, which is ignited by
various means. Pistols, rifles, carbines, muskets, and
fowling pieces are smaller guns, for hand use, and are
called small arms. Larger guns are called cannon,
ordnance, fieldpieces, carronades, howitzers, etc.
See these terms in the Vocabulary.
As swift as a pellet out of a gunne
When fire is in the powder runne. --Chaucer.
The word gun was in use in England for an engine to
cast a thing from a man long before there was any
gunpowder found out. --Selden.
2. (Mil.) A piece of heavy ordnance; in a restricted sense, a
3. pl. (Naut.) Violent blasts of wind.
Note: Guns are classified, according to their construction or
manner of loading as rifled or smoothbore,
breech-loading or muzzle-loading, cast or
built-up guns; or according to their use, as field,
mountain, prairie, seacoast, and siege guns.
Armstrong gun, a wrought iron breech-loading cannon named
after its English inventor, Sir William Armstrong.
Big gun or Great gun, a piece of heavy ordnance; hence
(Fig.), a person superior in any way; as, bring in the big
guns to tackle the problem.
Gun barrel, the barrel or tube of a gun.
Gun carriage, the carriage on which a gun is mounted or
Gun cotton (Chem.), a general name for a series of
explosive nitric ethers of cellulose, obtained by steeping
cotton in nitric and sulphuric acids. Although there are
formed substances containing nitric acid radicals, yet the
results exactly resemble ordinary cotton in appearance. It
burns without ash, with explosion if confined, but quietly
and harmlessly if free and open, and in small quantity.
Specifically, the lower nitrates of cellulose which are
insoluble in ether and alcohol in distinction from the
highest (pyroxylin) which is soluble. See Pyroxylin, and
cf. Xyloidin. The gun cottons are used for blasting and
somewhat in gunnery: for making celluloid when compounded
with camphor; and the soluble variety (pyroxylin) for
making collodion. See Celluloid, and Collodion. Gun
cotton is frequenty but improperly called
nitrocellulose. It is not a nitro compound, but an ester
of nitric acid.
Gun deck. See under Deck.
Gun fire, the time at which the morning or the evening gun
Gun metal, a bronze, ordinarily composed of nine parts of
copper and one of tin, used for cannon, etc. The name is
also given to certain strong mixtures of cast iron.
Gun port (Naut.), an opening in a ship through which a
cannon's muzzle is run out for firing.
Gun tackle (Naut.), the blocks and pulleys affixed to the
side of a ship, by which a gun carriage is run to and from
the gun port.
Gun tackle purchase (Naut.), a tackle composed of two
single blocks and a fall. --Totten.
Krupp gun, a wrought steel breech-loading cannon, named
after its German inventor, Herr Krupp.
Machine gun, a breech-loading gun or a group of such guns,
mounted on a carriage or other holder, and having a
reservoir containing cartridges which are loaded into the
gun or guns and fired in rapid succession. In earlier
models, such as the Gatling gun, the cartridges were
loaded by machinery operated by turning a crank. In modern
versions the loading of cartidges is accomplished by
levers operated by the recoil of the explosion driving the
bullet, or by the pressure of gas within the barrel.
Several hundred shots can be fired in a minute by such
weapons, with accurate aim. The Gatling gun, Gardner
gun, Hotchkiss gun, and Nordenfelt gun, named for
their inventors, and the French mitrailleuse, are
To blow great guns (Naut.), to blow a gale. See Gun, n.,
[1913 Webster +PJC]