English Vocabulary Words: Weapons

Let’s begin with different types of guns or firearms.

The gun on the left is a revolver, and the one on the right is a pistol – a more modern version. Both of these are a type of handgun (because you can shoot them with one hand):


A rifle is a long gun that is often used for hunting and sports:


One of the deadliest types of guns is a machine gun or an automatic weapon – this can shoot hundreds of bullets per minute:



Another general word for bullets is ammunition or ammo for short.

The verb we use for guns is shoot or fire a gun. If someone is hit with a bullet, that person has been shot.

Another type of weapon is a knife:


The word “knife” can be used for either a weapon, or an instrument used for cutting and eating. In the picture, the wooden part is called the handle and the metal part is the blade. The knife in the picture has only one edge (that’s the sharp part, which can cut).

A dagger is a type of knife with TWO edges. It is usually used for stabbing rather than cutting:


This special kind of knife – where the blade comes out of the handle – is called a switchblade.

A weapon with a very long blade is called a sword. There are many different types of swords from different cultures – such as sabers and machetes. The covering for the sword (below it in the picture) is called the sheath.


Three more ancient types of weapons are spears, the bow and arrow, and the whip:




In modern times, we also have explosive devices. One example is a bomb:


The picture on the right shows the explosion of an atomic bomb or nuclear bomb.

A grenade is a small bomb that you can hold in your hand and throw:


And rockets or missiles are explosive devices that are self-propelled – they can fly by themselves, different from bombs, which have no propulsion and can only be dropped or thrown. The equipment used to fire the missiles is called a missile launcher or rocket launcher:


In recent years, weapons have been developed which can stop a person without being deadly. The taser looks a little like a gun, but it doesn’t fire bullets. Instead, it delivers an electrical shock that temporarily paralyzes a person (stops them from moving):


There’s also pepper spray which can irritate a person’s eyes, and tear gas which irritates the eyes and respiratory system. Some women carry pepper spray for protection from attackers, and tear gas is often used during riots and protests.



What about protection from all of these weapons? Well, in ancient times people wore armor (the complete set is called a suit of armor) and also used shields:


Nowadays, the barrier is still called a shield, and we now have protection called a bulletproof vest for protection from being shot by a gun:


In areas where attacks with bombs, rockets, or missiles are common, people can hide in a bomb shelter – a structure that is specifically designed for protection from explosions.

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