Definition of culverin in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkəlvərən/


  • 1A 16th- or 17th- century cannon with a relatively long barrel for its bore, typically about 10 to 13 feet long.

    ‘And whereas the Spanish had only 21 culverins (long-range iron guns), the English had 153; whereas the Spanish had 151 demi-culverins, the English had 344.’
    • ‘A falcon shot a 2-to 3-pound projectile; a culverin fired a 15-to 22-pound projectile.’
    • ‘In view of the range he ascribes to the culverin, some remarks on gun performances are in order.’
    • ‘Their ship, Lady Edwina, mounts eight culverins and ten demi-culverins along with a prime crew of English seamen.’
    • ‘She weighed five hundred tons and carried thirty-eight guns: twenty-two culverins and sixteen demi-culverins.’
  • 2A kind of handgun of the 15th and 16th centuries.

    • ‘The culverins proved to be versatile and effective guns in the late medieval period.’


Late 15th century (in culverin (sense 2)): from Old French coulevrine, from couleuvre ‘snake’, based on Latin colubra.