1 [lawnch, lahnch]
verb (used with object)
to set (a boat or ship) in the water.
to float (a newly constructed boat or ship) usually by allowing to slide down inclined ways into the water.
to send forth, catapult, or release, as a self-propelled vehicle or weapon: Rockets were launched midway in the battle. The submarine launched its torpedoes and dived rapidly.
to start (a person) on a course, career, etc.
to set going; initiate: to launch a scheme.
to throw; hurl: to launch a spear.
to start (a new venture) or promote (a new product): They launched a new breakfast cereal.
Computers. to start (a software program).
verb (used without object)
to burst out or plunge boldly or directly into action, speech, etc.
to start out or forth; push out or put forth on the water.
the act of launching.

1300–50; late Middle English launche < Anglo-French lancher < Late Latin lanceāre to wield a lance; see lance1

launchable, adjective
unlaunched, adjective
well-launched, adjective

5. inaugurate, institute. Unabridged


2 [lawnch, lahnch]
a heavy open or half-decked boat propelled by oars or by an engine.
a large utility boat carried by a warship.

1690–1700; < Spanish, Portuguese lancha, earlier Portuguese lanchara, first attested in 1515 in an account of boats encountered near the Strait of Malacca; of unclear orig.; neither Malay lancar “swift” nor Rom outcomes of Late Latin lanceāre (see launch1) are fully convincing as sources; modern Malay lanca is < Portuguese Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source Link To launch
World English Dictionary
launch1 (lɔːntʃ)
vb (foll by into) (usually foll by out) (usually foll by out)
1.  to move (a vessel) into the water
2.  to move (a newly built vessel) into the water for the first time
3.  (tr)
 a.  to start off or set in motion: to launch a scheme
 b.  to put (a new product) on the market
4.  (tr) to propel with force
5.  to involve (oneself) totally and enthusiastically: to launch oneself into work
6.  (tr) to set (a missile, spacecraft, etc) into motion
7.  (tr) to catapult (an aircraft), as from the deck of an aircraft carrier
8.  to start talking or writing (about): he launched into a story
9.  to start (out) on a fresh course
10.  informal to spend a lot of money
11.  an act or instance of launching
[C14: from Anglo-French lancher, from Late Latin lanceāre to use a lance, hence, to set in motion. See lance]

launch2 (lɔːntʃ)
1.  a motor driven boat used chiefly as a transport boat
2.  the largest of the boats of a man-of-war
[C17: via Spanish lancha and Portuguese from Malay lancharan boat, from lanchar speed]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.N.Fr. lancher (O.Fr. lancier) "to fling, hurl, throw, cast," from L.L. lanceare "wield a lance," from L. lancea "light spear" (see lance). Sense of "set (a boat) afloat" first recorded c.1400, from notion of throwing it out on the water; generalized by 1600 to "any sort of beginning."

"large boat carried on a warship," 1697, from Port. lancha "barge, launch," apparently from Malay lancharan, from lanchar "quick, agile;" Eng. spelling infl. by launch (v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


largest of a ship's boats, at one time sloop-rigged and often armed, such as those used in the Mediterranean Sea during the 18th and 19th centuries. Although present-day launches can travel under sail or by oar, most are power-driven. Because of their weight, they are seldom used by merchant ships but are often deployed as armed craft from warships. Launches are capable of carrying large numbers of men and are also useful for transporting anchors, cannons, and other heavy objects.

Learn more about launch with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
It's always been my dream to watch a space shuttle launch and, more recently,
  to take my kids to see one.
One of the more special moments in the marathon of launch events is crew
Turn the palm of your throwing hand toward you, then quickly twist your hand
  outward and up to launch the dough into the air.
Such a technicality is unfortunate, given the obvious success of the launch.
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature