"cannon and great guns collectively, artillery," 1540s, an old, clipped form of ordinance (q.v.) which word was attested from late 14c. in the sense of "military materials, provisions of war;" a sense now obsolete but which led to the specialized meanings "engines for discharging missiles" (early 15c.) and "branch of the military concerned with stores and materials" (late 15c.). The shorter word was established in these distinct senses by 17c.
The Ordnance survey (1833), an official geographical survey of Great Britain and Ireland, was undertaken by the government under the direction of the Master-General of the Ordnance (the natural choice, gunners being thoroughly trained in surveying ranges and distances).
c. 1300, ordinaunce, "an authoritative direction, decree, or command" (narrower or more transitory than a law), from Old French ordenance (Modern French ordonnance) or directly from Medieval Latin ordinantia, from Latin ordinantem (nominative ordinans), present participle of ordinare "put in order," from ordo (genitive ordinis) "row, rank, series, arrangement" (see order (n.)). By early 14c. senses had emerged of "arrangement in ranks or rows" (especially in order of battle), also "warlike provisions, equipment" (a sense now in ordnance).
also arə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to fit together."
It forms all or part of: adorn; alarm; aristarchy; aristo-; aristocracy; arm (n.1) "upper limb of the body;" arm (n.2) "weapon;" armada; armadillo; armament; armature; armilla; armistice; armoire; armor; armory; army; art (n.) "skill as a result of learning or practice;" arthralgia; arthritis; arthro-; arthropod; arthroscopy; article; articulate; artifact; artifice; artisan; artist; coordination; disarm; gendarme; harmony; inert; inertia; inordinate; ordain; order; ordinal; ordinance; ordinary; ordinate; ordnance; ornament; ornate; primordial; subordinate; suborn.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit irmah "arm," rtih "manner, mode;" Armenian arnam "make," armukn "elbow;" Greek arti "just," artios "complete, suitable," artizein "to prepare," arthron "a joint;" Latin ars (stem art-) "art, skill, craft," armus "shoulder," artus "joint," arma "weapons;" Old Prussian irmo "arm;" German art "manner, mode."
type of cast-iron smooth-bore naval artillery cannon, by 1854, named for its inventor, U.S. naval ordnance officer John A. Dahlgren (1809-1870), who was of Swedish ancestry.
1590s, "to fire heavy guns," from French bombarder, from bombarde "mortar, catapult" (see bombard (n.)). The meaning "attack with heavy ordnance" is from 1680s. The figurative sense "assail persistently" is by 1765. Related: Bombarded; bombarding.
chemical spray originally used in riot control, 1966, technically Chemical Mace, a proprietary name (General Ordnance Equipment Corp, Pittsburgh, Pa.), probably so called for its use as a weapon, in reference to mace (n.1). The verb, "to spray with Mace," is attested by 1968. Related: Maced; macing.
c. 1300, "a retreat, a drawing back" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French recul "recoil, backward movement, retreat," from reculer (see recoil (v.)). Meaning "back-kick of a firearm or piece of ordnance when discharged" is from 1570s.
"short cannon, ordnance piece short in proportion to the size of its bore," fired at a high angle and meant to secure a vertical fall of the projectile, 1620s, originally mortar-piece (1550s), from French mortier "short cannon," in Old French, "bowl for mixing or pounding" (see mortar (n.2)). So called for its shape.
late 14c., "warlike munitions," especially ballistic engines, from Anglo-French artillerie, Old French artillerie (14c.), from artillier "to provide with engines of war" (13c.), which probably is from Medieval Latin articulum "art, skill," a diminutive of Latin ars (genitive artis) "art." But some would connect it to Latin articulum "joint," others to Latin apere "to attach, join," and still others to Old French atillier "to equip," altered by influence of arte.
Originally any engine for discharging missiles (catapults, slings, bows, etc.); the modern restriction to "ordnance, large guns" is from 16c. Technically, "all firearms discharged from carriages," as opposed to small arms, discharged by hand. As a branch of the army, from 1786.