Etymology and Usage
The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send".
In military usage, munitions projected towards a target are broadly categorised as follows:
- A powered, guided munition that travels through the air or space is known as a missile (or guided missile.)
- A powered, unguided munition is known as a rocket.
- Unpowered munitions not fired from a gun are called bombs whether guided or not; unpowered, guided munitions are known as guided bombs or "smart bombs".
- Munitions that are fired from a gun are known as projectiles whether guided or not. If explosive they are known more specifically as shells or mortar bombs.
- Powered munitions that travel through water are called torpedoes (an older usage includes fixed torpedoes, which might today be called mines).
- Hand grenades are not usually classed as missiles.
A common further sub-division is to consider ballistic missile to mean a munition that follows a ballistic trajectory and cruise missile to describe a munition that generates lift.
Read more about this topic: Missile
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