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. Doublet of ordonnance.



ordnance (countable and uncountable, plural ordnances)

  1. Military equipment, especially weapons and ammunition.
    • 1624, John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVI., in The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne, ed. Charles M. Coffin, New York: Modern Library (1952), pp. 438-40:
      When the Turkes took Constantinople, they melted the Bells into Ordnance; I have heard both Bells and Ordnance, but never been so much affected with those, as with these Bells.
  2. Artillery.

Usage notesEdit

  • Sometimes spelled and pronounced with three syllables, as ordinance, but this is proscribed.

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit

With prefixes