Etymology
Advertisement
pistol (n.)

"small firearm with a curved handle, intended to be held in one hand when aimed and fired," 1570s, from French pistole "short firearm" (1566), a word of uncertain origin, sometimes said to be from German Pistole, from Czech pis'tala "firearm," literally "tube, pipe," from pisteti "to whistle," a word of imitative origin, related to Russian pischal "shepherd's pipe."

But the earlier English form pistolet (1550) is said to be from French pistolet "a small firearm," also "a small dagger," which is said to be connected with Italian pistolese, in reference to Pistoia, the town in Tuscany noted for gunsmithing.

Pistol-whip (v.) "strike (someone) with the butt of a pistol is recorded by 1942. Pistol-grip "handle shaped like the butt of a pistol" is by 1874.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
automatic (n.)

1902, "automatic weapon," from automatic (adj.). Meaning "motorized vehicle with automatic transmission" is from 1949.

Related entries & more 
automatic (adj.)

"self-acting, moving or acting on its own," 1812 (automatical is from 1580s; automatous from 1640s), from Greek automatos of persons "acting of one's own will;" of things "self-moving, self-acting," used of the gates of Olympus and the tripods of Hephaestus (also "without apparent cause, by accident"), from autos "self" (see auto-) + matos "thinking, animated," *men- (1) "to think."

Of involuntary animal or human actions, from 1748, first used in this sense by English physician and philosopher David Hartley. Meaning "done by self-acting machinery" is by 1850. In reference to a type of firearm, from 1877; specifically of machinery that imitates human-directed action from 1940.

Related entries & more 
semi-automatic (adj.)

"partially automatic," 1853, from semi- + automatic (adj.). In reference to a firearm that loads all or partly by itself (but does not fire continuously) by 1889. As a noun in this sense (short for semi-automatic firearm, etc.) by 1964.

Related entries & more 
Luger (n.)
type of German automatic pistol, 1904, from the surname of Georg Luger (1849-1923), Austrian-born firearms expert.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
pistolier (n.)

also pistoleer, "one who uses a pistol, soldier armed with a pistol," 1570s from obsolete French pistolier, from pistole (see pistol).

Related entries & more 
automatize (v.)

1837, "to make into an automaton, make into a self-acting machine;" see automaton + -ize. Meaning "to make automatic" attested by 1952 (see automatic (adj.)). Related: Automatized; automatizing.

Related entries & more 
Instamatic 
1962, proprietary name (reg. Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, New York) for a type of self-loading camera, from instant + automatic.
Related entries & more 
zip (n.1)

"sound of something moving rapidly," 1875, imitative. Zip gun "homemade pistol" is attested by 1950.

Related entries & more 
equalizer (n.)
1792, agent noun from equalize. Sports sense attested by 1930; in the U.S. underworld slang sense of "pistol," it is from c. 1900.
Related entries & more