• Ballista
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n ballista an engine that provided medieval artillery used during sieges; a heavy war engine for hurling large stones and other missiles
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Ballista An ancient military engine, in the form of a crossbow, used for hurling large missiles.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n ballista An ancient military engine used for throwing missiles. The different references to it are contradictory, as it is described as acting by means of a bow, but also as throwing large stones rather than darts. An attempt has been made to reconcile these statements by representing the engine as composed of a strong shaft, rotating on one of its ends, and having at the other end a receptacle for the missile; this shaft would be thrown forward by the recoil of a steel bow, and stopped suddenly against a transom, thus releasing the missile. Throughout the middle ages the term is used in Latin writings for military engines of different kinds. See trébuchet, mangonel, caable, petronel, pierrière, and catapult. When used as a bearing in heraldry, the ballista is represented so simplified as to be hardly recognizable. It has generally two upright posts with a movable bar between them, shown loaded at one end.
    • n ballista [NL.] In anatomy, the astragalus, a bone of the tarsus.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Ballista bal-lis′ta a Roman military engine in the form of a crossbow, which, like the catapulta and the onager, propelled large and heavy missiles, chiefly through the reaction of a tightly twisted rope, or else by a violent movement of levers
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. ballista, balista, fr. Gr. ba`llein to throw
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L.—Gr. ballein, to throw.


In literature:

It was he who stretched the skeins of the ballistas.
"Salammbo" by Gustave Flaubert
An army might beat the stony face with ballista and ram, and be laughed at.
"Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" by Lew Wallace
The air was full of flints hurled to the walls by ballistas and mangonels.
"Peter the Hermit" by Daniel A. Goodsell
They were made in various forms, and were called catapultas, ballistas, maginalls, and by other such names.
"Richard I" by Jacob Abbott
Up in their high emplacements, the big ballistas creaked and thrummed.
"Black Amazon of Mars" by Leigh Brackett
The ballista was considerably larger and more expensive than this.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 5, Slice 5" by Various
Various names were applied to these weapons, the chief of which were the ballista and the catapult.
"Great Inventions and Discoveries" by Willis Duff Piercy
The catapults were reenforced by the ballistae.
"The Golden Hope" by Robert H. Fuller
There are heavy cross-bows, ballistas, a catapult, and other mediaeval machinery of battle.
"The Complete Opera Book" by Gustav Kobbé