artillery

Definitions

General English

  • noun the large guns that an army has
  • adjective pretending to be artistic; making artistic things

Military

  • noun a general title for large-calibre guns, missiles and air defence weapons
  • noun a branch of the army which uses these weapons
  • abbreviationarty

Slang

  • noun needles, hypodermic syringes and other paraphernalia used by heroin addicts. The image of an arsenal of deadly equipment is typical of addicts’ own self-dramatising slang (as in shooting gallery, harpoon, etc.).

Origin & History of “artillery”

Originally artillery meant ‘military supplies, munitions’ (Chaucer used it thus); it was not until the late 15th century that it came to be used for ‘weapons for firing missiles’ – originally catapults, bows, etc. The source of the English word was Old French artillerie, a derivative of the verb artiller ‘equip, arm’. this was an alteration of an earlier form atillier, probably influenced by art, but the ultimate provenance of atillier is not clear. some etymologists trace it back to a hypothetical Latin verb *apticulāre ‘make fit, adapt’, a derivative of aptus ‘fitting’ (source of English apt and adapt); others regard it as a variant of Old French atirier ‘arrange, equip’ (source of English attire (13th c.)), which was based on tire ‘order, rank’, a noun of Germanic origin, related to Latin deus ‘god’.
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