A pistol is a small handgun. Unlike a shotgun or a rifle, you can hold and fire a pistol with one hand.

Sometimes the word pistol is used for any handgun, but many people distinguish between the pistol, with its single chamber, and the revolver, which has a cylinder that rotates and holds many bullets. The earliest pistols were used in sixteenth century Europe, and the English word comes from the Middle French pistolet, meaning both "small firearm" and "small dagger." You can also call someone who's full of energy a pistol.

Definitions of pistol

n a firearm that is held and fired with one hand

handgun, shooting iron, side arm
show 13 types...
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automatic, automatic pistol
a pistol that will keep firing until the ammunition is gone or the trigger is released
a pocket pistol of large caliber with a short barrel
a .45-caliber pistol
gat, rod
a gangster's pistol
horse pistol, horse-pistol
a large pistol (usually in a holster) formerly carried by horsemen
the pistol of a law officer in the old West
revolver, six-gun, six-shooter
a pistol with a revolving cylinder (usually having six chambers for bullets)
Saturday night special
a cheap handgun that is easily obtained
semiautomatic, semiautomatic pistol
a pistol that is a semiautomatic firearm capable of loading and firing continuously
Verey pistol, Very pistol
a pistol for firing Very-light flares
zip gun
a crude homemade pistol
a kind of revolver
a German semiautomatic pistol
Type of:
firearm, piece, small-arm
a portable gun

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