an ancient military engine for throwing stones or other missiles.
Historical Examples

The ballista was considerably larger and more expensive than this.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 5, Slice 5 Various

The ballista (Fig. 229) was in reality a large cross-bow, built to shoot long, heavy bolts or arrows.
The Boy Craftsman A. Neely Hall

No ballista, however, is made without regard to the given amount of weight of the stone which the engine is intended to throw.
Ten Books on Architecture Vitruvius

Like a modern field gun, the ballista shot low and directly toward the enemy.
Artillery Through the Ages Albert Manucy

Various names were applied to these weapons, the chief of which were the ballista and the catapult.
Great Inventions and Discoveries Willis Duff Piercy

Trebuchet, treb′ū-shet, n. a military engine like the ballista.
Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary (part 4 of 4: S-Z and supplements) Various

noun (pl) -tae (-tiː)
an ancient catapult for hurling stones, etc
an ancient form of large crossbow used to propel a spear

ancient war engine, late 14c., from Latin ballista, literally “a throwing machine,” from Greek ballein “to throw” (see ballistics).


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