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Alternative forms[edit]


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English launchen (to throw as a lance), Old French lanchier, another form (Old Northern French/Norman variant, compare Jèrriais lanchi) of lancier, French lancer, from lance.


launch (third-person singular simple present launches, present participle launching, simple past and past participle launched or (obsolete) launcht)

  1. (transitive) To throw (a projectile such as a lance, dart or ball); to hurl; to propel with force.
    • 2011, Stephen Budiansky, Perilous Fight: America's Intrepid War with Britain on the High Seas, 1812-1815, page 323:
      There they were met by four thousand Ha'apa'a warriors, who launched a volley of stones and spears []
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To pierce with, or as with, a lance.
    Synonyms: lance, pierce
    • 1591, Edmund Spenser, The Teares of the Muses:
      And launch your hearts with lamentable wounds.
  3. (transitive) To cause (a vessel) to move or slide from the land or a larger vessel into the water; to set afloat.
    The navy launched another ship.
  4. (transitive) To cause (a rocket, balloon, etc., or the payload thereof) to begin its flight upward from the ground.
    • 1978, Farooq Hussain, “Volksraketen for the Third World”, in New Scientist:
      A cheap rocket that could launch military reconnaisance satellites for developing countries has become involved in a tangled web of Nazi rocket scientists, Penthouse magazine, KGB disinformation, and a treaty reminiscent of the height of colonialism in Africa.
    NASA launched several unmanned rockets before launching any of the Mercury astronauts.
  5. (transitive) To send out; to start (someone) on a mission or project; to give a start to (something); to put in operation
    Our business launched a new project.
  6. (transitive, computing) To start (a program or feature); to execute or bring into operation.
    Double-click an icon to launch the associated application.
  7. (transitive) To release; to put onto the market for sale
    • 2013 September 7, “Kill or cure”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8852:
      On September 3rd Bionym, a Canadian firm, launched Nymi, a bracelet which detects the wearer’s heartbeat.
  8. (intransitive) Of a ship, rocket, balloon, etc.: to depart on a voyage; to take off.
  9. (intransitive, often with out) To move with force and swiftness like a sliding from the stocks into the water; to plunge; to begin.
    • 1718, Matthew Prior, Solomon: On the Vanity of the World, Preface
      In our language, Spenſer has not contented himſelf with this ſubmiſſive manner of imitation : he launches out into very flowery paths []
    • 1969, Maya Angelou, chapter 23, in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:
      My class was wearing butter-yellow pique dresses, and Momma launched out on mine. She smocked the yoke into tiny crisscrossing puckers, then shirred the rest of the bodice.
    to launch into an argument or discussion
    to launch into lavish expenditures
  10. (intransitive, computing, of a program) To start to operate.
    After clicking the icon, the application will launch.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


launch (plural launches)

  1. The movement of a vessel from land into the water; especially, the sliding on ways from the stocks on which it is built. (Compare: to splash a ship.)
  2. The act or fact of launching (a ship/vessel, a project, a new book, etc.).
    • 2013 July 20, “The attack of the MOOCs”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Dotcom mania was slow in coming to higher education, but now it has the venerable industry firmly in its grip. Since the launch early last year of Udacity and Coursera, two Silicon Valley start-ups offering free education through MOOCs, massive open online courses, the ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations.
  3. An event held to celebrate the launch of a ship/vessel, project, a new book, etc.; a launch party.
    product launch
    book launch
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Portuguese lancha (barge, launch), apparently from Malay lancar (quick, agile). Spelling influenced by the verb above.[1]


launch (plural launches)

  1. (nautical) The boat of the largest size and/or of most importance belonging to a ship of war, and often called the "captain's boat" or "captain's launch".
  2. (nautical) A boat used to convey guests to and from a yacht.
  3. (nautical) An open boat of any size powered by steam, petrol, electricity, etc.
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “launch”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.