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Old March 5, 2013, 01:20 AM   #1
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define an arsenal

Occasionally on TV you hear reference to 'they had an arsenal'.
Whats defines an 'arsenal'? number of total guns? Number of different calibers of guns? Number of rounds of ammunition? What?
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Old March 5, 2013, 01:30 AM   #2
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Not a linguist here, but I think the term originally referred to a facility and not a specific collection. In other words the building armaments are stored or serviced in and not the actual items.

However, it has come to mean any collection of firearms and I don’t think there is a specific size. Obviously it is used to sensationalize a story and another term would probably be more accurate, but not sure it is really wrong as far as modern usage goes.
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Old March 5, 2013, 02:01 AM   #3
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World English Dictionary

arsenal (ˈɑːsən ə l)
— n

1. a store for arms, ammunition, and other military items

2. a workshop or factory that produces munitions

3. a store of anything regarded as weapons: an arsenal of destructive arguments

[C16: from Italian arsenale dockyard, from the original Venetian arsenal dockyard and naval store, from Arabic dār sīn`ah, from dār house + sīn`ah manufacture]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source

Word Origin & History

c.150o, "dockyard," from It. arzenale, from Arabic dar as-sina'ah "workshop," lit. "house of manufacture," from dar "house" + sina'ah "art, craft, skill," from sana'a "he made." Applied by the Venetians to a large wharf in their city, which was the earliest meaning in Eng. Sense of "public place for
making or storing weapons and ammunition" is from 1570s. The London football club (1886) was named for the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, where the original players worked.
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Old March 5, 2013, 02:57 PM   #4
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Occasionally on TV you hear reference to 'they had an arsenal'.
Whats defines an 'arsenal'? number of total guns?...
First, MarkDozier provided a good definition in post 3.

Second, we know that reporters, especially on TV, don't use words correctly.

Third, a discussion of media misuse of language is not a proper subject for T&T.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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