noun pl. torpedoes
- electric ray
- ☆ a large, cigar-shaped, self-propelled underwater projectile for launching against enemy ships from a submarine, airplane, etc.: it is detonated by contact, sound, etc.
- a metal case containing explosives, esp. one used as an underwater mine
- a small fireworks device consisting of a percussion cap and gravel wrapped in tissue paper, which explodes with a loud noise when thrown against a hard surface
- ☆ an explosive cartridge or a flare, placed on a railroad track and detonated by a train wheel as a signal to the crew
- ☆ an explosive cartridge lowered into oil wells, where it is detonated to clear the bore or break through into the oil pocket
- ☆ Slang a gangster or gunman hired as a bodyguard, assassin, etc.
Origin: L, numbness, crampfish < torpere, to be stiff: see torpid
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
noun pl. tor·pe·does
- A cigar-shaped, self-propelled underwater projectile launched from a submarine, aircraft, or ship and designed to detonate on contact with or in the vicinity of a target.
- Any of various submarine explosive devices, especially a submarine mine.
- A small explosive placed on a railroad track that is fired by the weight of the train to sound a warning of an approaching hazard.
- An explosive fired in an oil or gas well to begin or increase the flow.
- A small firework consisting of gravel wrapped in tissue paper with a percussion cap that explodes when thrown against a hard surface.
- See electric ray.
- Slang A professional assassin or thug.
- Chiefly New Jersey See submarine. See Regional Note at submarine.
- To attack, strike, or sink with a torpedo.
- To destroy decisively; wreck: torpedo efforts at reform.
Origin: Latin torpēdō, numbness; electric ray, crampfish, from torpēre, to be stiff; see ster-1 in Indo-European roots.