Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


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)

  1. (transitive) To throw, as a lance or dart; to hurl; to let fly; to send off, 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.
    • 1591, Edmund Spenser, The Teares of the Muses
      And launch your hearts with lamentable wounds.
  3. (transitive) To cause to move or slide from the land into the water; to set afloat.
    • Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
    • 1725–1726, Alexander Pope, Homer's Odyssey (translation), Book V
      With stays and cordage last he rigged the ship, / And rolled on levers, launched her in the deep.
    The navy launched another ship.
  4. (transitive) To send out; to start (one) on a career; to set going; to give a start to (something); to put in operation.
    • 1649, Eikon Basilike
      All art is uſed to ſink Epiſcopacy, & lanch Presbytery in England.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 2, in The Celebrity:
      Here was my chance. I took the old man aside, and two or three glasses of Old Crow launched him into reminiscence.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 13, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      “[…] They talk of you as if you were Croesus—and I expect the beggars sponge on you unconscionably.” And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes.
    • 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.
    Our business launched a new project.
    Double-click an icon to launch the associated application.
  5. (intransitive, often with out) To move with force and swiftness like a sliding from the stocks into the water; to plunge; to make a beginning.
    • 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, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 23:
      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
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


launch (plural launches)

  1. The act of launching.
    • 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.
  2. 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.)
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, naphtha, electricity, etc. (Compare Spanish lancha.)
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ launch” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2018.