tor·pe·do / tôrˈpēdō/ • n. (pl. -does) 1. a cigar-shaped self-propelled underwater missile designed to be fired from a ship or submarine or dropped into the water from an aircraft and to explode on reaching a target. ∎ a signal placed on a railroad track, exploding as the train passes over it. ∎ a firework exploding on impact with a hard surface. ∎ inf. a submarine sandwich. ∎ inf. a gangster hired to commit a murder or other violent act. ∎ an explosive device lowered into oil wells to clear obstructions.2. (also tor·pe·do ray) an electric ray.• v. (-does, -doed) [tr.] attack or sink (a ship) with a torpedo or torpedoes. ∎ fig. destroy or ruin (a plan or project): fighting between the militias torpedoed peace talks.DERIVATIVES: tor·pe·do·like / -ˌlīk/ adj.