Gun(n.) - Chooser of the slain
A device consisting primarily of a tube through which a projectile is forced at a high speed causing it to fly straight through the air.
It can also be applied to objects that physically resemble these devices, and can also refer to people that wield these weapons.
History & Etymology
Norse mythology speaks of the Valkyries, the shield maidens of Odin. The word Valkyrie means “chooser of the slain”, and these Valkyrie were said to have taken warriors who had died honorably to valhalla where they would await the final battle of Ragnarok. The names of two of these Valkyrie were Gunnr and Hildr. You might be familiar with these two as they make an appearance in the new God of War. Both of these names meant something analogous to battle or war. The combination of these names, Gunnhildr, became a popular proper name for women in Old Norse.
In the 14th century it was popular to give weapons of war feminine names. Actually this practice was still around at the end of world war II with the name of the plane dropping the first atomic bomb on Japan being named the Enola Gay after the mother of the pilot. At Windsor castle in the UK in the year 1330 there was a particularly large ballista named Domina Gunhildr, or Lady Gunhilda. Gunhilda was a common name given to ballistas and other projectile siege weapons, and presumably would be given to cannons after the introduction of gunpowder.
When smaller handled weapons were introduced using the same technology the word was shortened by those using the technology from gunhilda to gunne. The vowels at the ends of words like gunne or gonne are very weak and have a tendency to disappear after a period of time leaving us with the word we have today, gun.
China is credited with not only the invention of gunpowder but also the first device we would recognize as a gun. The fire lance was a small tube attached to the end of a lance or polearm that when manually lit would shoot flames and shrapnel. Overtime the lance was removed and it became a hand held canon. It wasn’t until the Portuguese added an invention called a match lock that the trigger that the gun took on features and shape we recognize today.