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A reduced form of ordinance, which is attested from the late 14th century in the sense of "military equipment or provisions". The sense of "artillery" arises in the early 15th century, the sense "military logistics" in the late 15th century. The shortened form ordnance arises by the 17th century, now distinct in meaning from the surviving meanings of ordinance.



ordnance (countable and uncountable, plural ordnances)

  1. Military equipment, especially weapons and ammunition.
  2. Artillery.

Usage notes[edit]

The British Ordnance Survey, now a civilian agency, retains its name from its origin as a military topographic survey of Britain during the Napoleonic Wars.

This word is often confused with ordinance, which is a law or legal statute.

Derived terms[edit]