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launch, n.1

Brit. Hear pronunciation/lɔːn(t)ʃ/
U.S. Hear pronunciation/lɔn(t)ʃ/
Hear pronunciation/lɑn(t)ʃ/
Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Etymology: < launch v.
N.E.D. (1902) gives the pronunciation as (lǭnʃ, lānʃ) /lɔːnʃ/, formerly /lɑːnʃ/.

1. The action or an act of lancing; a prick. Obsolete.

1558   Traheron in S. R. Maitland Ess. Reform. (1849) 80   If I shal perceaue that it shalbe to your welth, I wil not sticke to giue you a launch or two.
1596   E. Spenser Hymne Heauenly Loue in Fowre Hymnes 162   What hart can feele least touch of so sore launch?

1558—1596(Hide quotations)


 2. The action or an act of launching, shooting forth, or springing. Obsolete exc. dialect.

c1440   Promptorium Parvulorum 290/2   Lawnche, or skyppe, saltus.
a1825   R. Forby Vocab. E. Anglia (1830)    Launch, a long stride.
1897   W. C. Russell Last Entry 241   The schooner..swept in long floating launches down upon the boat.

c1440—1897(Hide quotations)


3. concrete. Shoots of a plant. Also figurative. Obsolete.

c1430   Hymns Virg. 3   Veni de libano, þou loueli in launche.
?c1450   Pistel of Swete Susan (Pierpont Morgan) 109   Þe lyly, þe louage, þe launches so lefe.

c1430—?c1450(Hide quotations)


 a. The action or process of launching a vessel. Also figurative and transferred, and with out.


 b. The starting off of a bird in flight.

1749   J. Cleland Mem. Woman of Pleasure I. 8   I soon came to a resolution of making this launch into the wide world, by repairing to London.
1814   W. Scott Let. 17 June (1932) III. 450   The first time I happened to see a launch.
1835–6   Todd's Cycl. Anat. & Physiol. I. 298/1   The first launch of the bird into the air is produced by an ordinary leap from the ground.
1857   Trans. Michigan Agric. Soc. 8 193   I have seen the commencement of railways, and witnessed the ‘launch’ of the first locomotive.
1879   J. Martineau Ess., Rev., & Addr. (1891) IV. 271   Its daring launch-out on the ocean of real being.
1879   Cassell's Techn. Educator (new ed.) IV. 223/2   Bearing surfaces should be well greased..before the launch takes place.

1749—1879(Hide quotations)


 c. The launching of a missile, spacecraft, glider, or the like. (See also Compounds 1   below.)

1935   C. H. Latimer-Needham Gliding & Soaring x. 170   The wind velocity should be ascertained and allowed for in any method of mechanical launching or too vigorous a launch may be given unwittingly.
1952   F. Geen A.B.C. of Gliding 95   The easiest launch is a full-height nose launch.
1963   Ann. Reg. 1962 397   The closely matched orbits of the two astronauts also required precise timing of their launches.
1966   Economist 18 June 1307/1   The first of three such launches which are to put a chain of 24 defence communications satellites in synchronous orbit round the earth.
1969   Observer 20 July 9/8   The astronauts..sleep or doze for nearly five hours before preparing for the launch.

1935—1969(Hide quotations)


 5. concrete in Shipbuilding. (See quot. 1850.)

1711   W. Sutherland Ship-builders Assistant 23   Erecting a Ship on the Launch, and launching her from thence.
1712   London Gaz. No. 5019/5   Wherein are two large Launches and a large dry Dock.
1850   J. Greenwood Sailor's Sea-bk. 128   Launch, the slip or descent whereon the ship is built, including the whole of the machinery used in launching.

1711—1850(Hide quotations)


 6. dialect. A trap for taking eels.

1847   in J. O. Halliwell Dict. Archaic & Provinc. Words  

1847—1847(Hide quotations)



 C1. General attributive. (In sense 4c.)

  launch crew   n.

1962   J. Glenn in J. Glenn et al. Into Orbit 6   The most junior member of the launch crew.

1962—1962(Hide quotations)


  launch date   n.

1969   Daily Mail 15 Jan. 5/3   Then suddenly it was now—launch date just around the corner.

1969—1969(Hide quotations)


  launch site   n.

1969   Listener 20 Feb. 233/2   When you fly over the Soviet Union, can you see their launch sites?

1969—1969(Hide quotations)


  launch vehicle   n.

1965   New Scientist 18 Mar. 701/1   The Gemini spacecraft, launch vehicle and target vehicle are all derived from hardware and technology already in existence.
1966   Sci. Amer. Jan. 54   Because of various failures in the launch-vehicle guidance system..a lunar landing was not accomplished.

1965—1966(Hide quotations)


  launch-block   n. ( Cent. Dict.) = launching-ways n., launching-planks n. at launching n. Compounds 2.

1720   D. Defoe Life Capt. Singleton 54   A Launch Block and Cradles.

1720—1720(Hide quotations)

1960   News Chron. 29 Sept. 9/6   The 100-foot rocket sat immobile on its launch-pad.
1968   Times 23 Dec. 6/3   Captain Lovell and Major Anders..climbed into a van which took them to the launch pad.
1969   Times 3 June Suppl. p. iii/1   The world's largest tracked vehicle, ‘the crawler’,..carried..Saturn 5..from its lofty assembly building to launchpad 39A.

1960—1969(Hide quotations)


  launch-ways   n. ( Cent. Dict.) = launching-ways n., launching-planks n. at launching n. Compounds 2.


  launch window   n. a period outside which the planned launch of a spacecraft cannot take place if the journey is to be completed, owing to the changing positions of the planets.

1965   Newsweek 29 Nov. 40/3   It is thought they may even try a third shot before the launch window closes in December.
1966   Sci. News 3 Sept. 165   The 20-day period centered around the launch date allowing travel between planets on an orbit requiring the least amount of energy. This is the so-called ‘launch window’ used to hurl space vehicles from earth to the moon.
1968   Radio Times 19 Dec. 41/4   As to timing, they must choose a launch window several days long when the Moon is in the right position relative to the Earth, when the sun is in the right position relative to the lunar landing sites, and when Apollo 8 can return to a suitable landing on Earth.

1965—1968(Hide quotations)


Draft additions  1997


  The placing of a new product on the market; the publicity event at which this takes place.

1969   J. Argenti Managem. Techniques v. 25   Anxiety that the launch date [of a product] will be missed.
1969   Punch 15 Jan. 96/2   The Ford Capri, a sort of shrunken Mustang, is being built in Britain and Germany and will be launched later this month. But, of course, ‘the launch’, as the trade calls it, is not as simple as that.
1971   Sunday Express (Johannesburg) 28 Mar. 5/1   Mr. Uys..vetoed the display of the same model's nipple when the launch advertisement was submitted.
1983   Willis & Lee Captain's Diary x. 168   The afternoon was hectic—a book launch for Glenn Turner,..and then a store appearance.
1986   Linlithgowshire Jrnl. & Gaz. 17 July 13/3   Since its launch in 1980 ‘The Face’ magazine has reached a worldwide readership.
1991   R.A.F. News 1 Nov. 7/1   Some of them were at the launch, at the Imperial War Museum.

1969—1991(Hide quotations)


Draft additions  1997

  launch pad   n. also figurative.

1980   Encounter May 75/1   Even more dubious than the writer's obvious failure to ascertain simple facts is his tendency to use his impressions as a launch-pad for daring sociological speculation.
1989   Franchise Mag. Spring 80/2   The company sees the deal with Mansfield as a launchpad for its plans to penetrate the European market.
1995   Nursing Times 22 Mar. 98/2 (advt.)    The D grade staff nurse posts are excellent launch pads for career minded nurses.

1980—1995(Hide quotations)


Draft additions December 2015


  launch way   n. a sloping path or structure down which a boat or ship is launched into a body of water.

1811   Asiatic Ann. Reg. 1808 10 64/1   On Thursday evening, they were overtaken by a sudden gust of wind, which upset their launchway, and dashed them into the river.
1902   Financial Times 3 May 5/2   Harland and Wolff are at present lengthening by 40ft their longest launch-way.
2007   S. Harvey It started with Steamboat x. 219   The sound of the cheering crowd and blast of steamboat whistles was quickly cut short as the Mary Bell came to a halt only halfway down her launch way.

1811—2007(Hide quotations)


This entry has not yet been fully updated (first published 1902; most recently modified version published online September 2021).

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