AskDefine | Define missile

Dictionary Definition



1 rocket carrying passengers or instruments or a warhead
2 a weapon that is thrown or projected [syn: projectile]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a UK: /ˈmɪsaɪl/, /"mIsaIl/
    Rhymes with: -ɪsaɪl
  • a US: , /ˈmɪsaɪl/, /"mIsaIl/ or , /ˈmɪsəl/, /"mIs@l/
    Rhymes with: -ɪsaɪl, -ɪsəl


  1. An object intended to be launched into the air.
  2. A rocket whose trajectory can be adjusted after having been launched.


object to be launched
military rocket

Related terms



  1. missile


  1. missile (attributive)

Extensive Definition

A missile (see also pronunciation differences) is a self-propelled, explosive projectile used as a weapon towards a target.
Missiles are typically propelled by rockets, but other engines such as ramjet, turbojet and turbofan engines can also be used.


The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, literally meaning "to send".


Missiles that have the ability to maneuver through the air can be guided, and are known as guided missiles. These have three key system components:
  • tracking
  • guidance
  • flight
A tracking system locates the missile's target. This can be either a human gunner aiming a sight on the target (remotely from the missile) or an automatic tracker. Automatic trackers use radiation emanating from the target or emitted from the launch platform and reflecting back to it from the target. Passive automatic trackers use the target's inherent radiation, usually heat or light, but missiles designed to attack Command & Control posts, aircraft or guided missiles may look for radio waves. Active automatic trackers rely on the target being illuminated by radiation. The target can be "painted" with light (sometimes infrared and/or laser) or radio waves (radar) which can be detected by the missile. The radiation for the painting can originate in the missile itself or may come from a remote station (for example, a hilltop gunner can illuminate a target with a laser device and this can be used to direct an air launched guided missile).
A guidance system takes data from the missile's tracking system and flight system and computes a flight path for the missile designed to intercept the target. It produces commands for the flight system.
The flight system causes the missile to maneuver. There are two main systems: vectored thrust (for missiles that are powered throughout the guidance phase of their flight) and aerodynamic maneuvering (wings, fins, canards, etc).
There are some similarities between guided missiles and guided bombs. A guided bomb, dropped from an aircraft, is unpowered and uses aerodynamic fins for forward horizontal maneuvering while falling vertically.
missile in Min Nan: Tō-tôaⁿ
missile in Welsh: Taflegryn
missile in Danish: Missil
missile in German: Lenkflugkörper
missile in Modern Greek (1453-): Πύραυλος
missile in Spanish: Misil
missile in Esperanto: Misilo
missile in Persian: موشک
missile in French: Missile
missile in Galician: Mísil
missile in Korean: 미사일
missile in Hindi: प्रक्षेपास्त्र
missile in Indonesian: Misil
missile in Italian: Missile
missile in Hebrew: טיל
missile in Japanese: ミサイル
missile in Norwegian: Missil
missile in Polish: Pocisk rakietowy
missile in Portuguese: Míssil
missile in Romansh: Missil
missile in Russian: Ракетное оружие
missile in Simple English: Missile
missile in Slovenian: Izstrelek
missile in Finnish: Ohjus
missile in Swedish: Robot (vapen)
missile in Tamil: ஏவுகணை
missile in Turkish: Füze
missile in Chinese: 导弹

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

AA target rocket, ABM, ASM, ATS, Asp, Asroc, Atlas, Atlas-Agena, Atlas-Centaur, Bullpup, Cajun, Corporal, Corvus, Crossbow, Dart, Deacon, Delta, Diamant, Dove, Falcon, Firebee, Genie, Hawk, Holy Moses, Hound Dog, ICBM, Irish confetti, Jupiter, Lacrosse, Lark, Loki, Loon, Mace, Matador, Navaho, Nike, Nike Ajax, Pershing, Petrel, Polaris, Poseidon, Quail, Ram, Rascal, Redeye, Redstone, Regulus I, SLAM, Saturn, Scout, Sentinel, Sergeant, Shillelagh, Sidewinder, Skybolt, Snark, Spaerobee, Sparrow, Subroc, Super Talos, Talos, Tartar, Terrier, Thor, Thor Able Star, Thor-Agena, Thor-Delta, Tiny Tim, Titan, V-2, Viking, WAC-Corporal, Wagtail, Zuni, anchor rocket, antiaircraft rocket, antiradar rocket, atom-rocket, atomic warhead, ball, ballistic, barrage rocket, bat bomb, bird, bola, bolt, boomerang, brickbat, chemical rocket, countermissile, demolition rocket, discus, ejecta, ejectamenta, ejective, fin-stabilized rocket, fireworks rocket, flare rocket, flying tank, guided missile, high-altitude rocket, homing rocket, incendiary rocket, ion rocket, jaculatory, line-throwing rocket, liquid-fuel rocket, nuclear warhead, payload, projectile, quoit, ram rocket, retro-float light, retro-rocket, rock, rocket, rockoon, signal rocket, skyrocket, smoke rocket, snake, solid-fuel rocket, space rocket, spin-stabilized rocket, spinner, stone, supersonic rocket, thermonuclear warhead, throw stick, throwing-stick, torpedo, trajectile, trajectory missile, transoceanic rocket, vernier, vernier rocket, waddy, war rocket, warhead, window rocket
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