What is the difference between a rocket and a missile?

By | March 11, 2017


Rocket and missile seem to be used interchangeably.  “We fired a missile at an enemy base.” seems to be about the same as “We fired a rocket at an enemy base”. Given this ambiguity, it makes me wonder how exactly what the difference between the two words is.


Rocket is defined as:

a cylindrical projectile that can be propelled to a great height or distance by the combustion of its contents, used typically as a firework or signal.


Missile is defined as:

an object that is forcibly propelled at a target, either by hand or from a mechanical weapon.


So it seems the key difference between a rocket and a missile is that a rocket is propelled by some kind of fuel while a missile is a more generic term meaning anything flying through the sky.

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