pistol

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pis·tol / ˈpistl/ • n. a small firearm designed to be held in one hand. • v. (-toled, -tol·ing; Brit. -tolled, -tol·ling) [tr.] dated shoot (someone) with a pistol. ORIGIN: mid 16th cent.: from obsolete French pistole, from German Pistole, from Czech pišt'ala, of which the original meaning was ‘whistle,’ hence ‘a firearm’ by the resemblance in shape.

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pistol Firearm held and fired in one hand. The first were matchlocks, in which a glowing fuse ignited the charge; by the end of the 16th century, wheel-locks and the cheaper flintlocks were also in use. The invention of the percussion cap in 1815 enabled pistol technology to advance rapidly, and Samuel Colt's revolver of 1835 was the first reliable repeating firearm. Since then pistols have become capable of automatic fire.

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pistol XVI. — F. pistole — G. — Czech píšt'ala pipe, pistol.