Question for Y'all

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Well-Known Member
Nov 26, 2003
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Someone at work asked me what the difference was between a rocket and a missile. I didn't have a satisfactory answer so what do you think?:confused:
A rocket is unguided. No sensors, no moving control surfaces, no vectoring nozzles, no steering. Point it, light it, stand back.

A missile is generally a much more complicated and expensive affair. These are used to get stuff in orbit (where the penalty of carrying a guidance system is just part of the deal when you have to exactly hit the right 'spot' in the sky), to get greetings delivered to a specific target, or for any other precision requirement.
From the dictionary:

Rocket - A vehicle or device propelled by one or more rocket engines, especially such a vehicle designed to travel through space.

Missile - An object or weapon that is fired, thrown, dropped, or otherwise projected at a target; a projectile.

Baically what "powderburner" said...
As with most things, it depends on the context. The term missile refers
to any sort of projectile. If you read about ancient battles, "missile" can
refer to arrows and spears that are thrown or launched from a device.
In the context of modern rocketry, rockets tend to refer to unguided
devices while missiles are guided. However, there are exceptions to that
as well. The Saturn V is often referred to as a rocket rather than a missile
even though it is definitely guided. Missile tends to have the connotation of
something that explodes, and rockets that carry passengers are usually
not referred to as missiles.

So, like everything else in life, your mileage may vary.
What amazed me was the original Cruise Missile had a non-caliber design when first designed. It essentially was fired " in the general direction " of its target, and then on-board sensors took it home to daddy.

I remember seeing a launch of a prototype when I was in the service and it was really cool to see the missile veer left on takeoff, then suddenly do a 130 degree turn and home in.

Gave me the willies as it turned towards me - thinking - oh great - its locked on the steel plate in my head...
Originally posted by shockwaveriderz
ya'll <-- southern for you all........heheheh

That's cause I live in Southern New Hampshire:cool:

My Great Grandfather was the city clerk of Beverly, Mass in the 1880's and we have all of his police records. Isreal Trask and Mary Gardiner were arrested for "Hurling Missiles", in this case snowballs. Apparently they were a "thirsty" pair because they were always getting drunk and arrested. (The following year they got busted for something else that we won't mention on a family forum).

ps If there are any descendants who are offended by this I apologize in advance:eek:
ya'll <-- southern for you all........heheheh

REK - Do not feel deprived because your ancestors felt they were forced through circumstances of life to settle in, uhh, lets just say, the colder climes of this wonderful country. They did make a highly intelligent decision to settle in the Southern area of your state. A little known scientific fact is that living in any location deemed to be Southern, whether by political, or geographical boundary, contributes to a higher enjoyment of life and all it has to offer, ergo, the rocket hobby! Not only that, you correctly spelled that wonderful Southern term, y'all.

Sunnily Southerly yours,

Da Dog

From what I've heard from my sister in law (in San Antonio)...

Y'all is singular...

Y'alls is plural...

All Y'alls is plural possesive...

Originally posted by jflis
From what I've heard from my sister in law (in San Antonio)...

Y'all is singular...

Y'alls is plural...

All Y'alls is plural possesive...

No, no, no. The true mark of someone who has mastered the Southern dialect (either by birth or extensive study) is the ability to naturally use y'all both as singular and plural. Most beginning students will attempt to use y'all only in the plural, and insist on using you in the singular. Only the fluent speaker can naturally use y'all when addressing one person.
My roomate in freshman year of college (here in Richmond) was from New Jersey. His first day he started laughing at all of us saying "y'all". So when asked how he addressed people in jersey, he got a puzzled look -like what he was about to say was too obvious to even mention - he said: "Yoose Guys".

I had never heard anything so dopey in my life.
Your understanding of the subtle nuances of the term "y'all" has exposed you to be another True Son of the South or, at the very least, a highly intelligent individual with an exceptional education, formal or informal, in cultures not your own. As another True Son of the South, I must confess that even I had difficulty as a child pinning down the mysterious, at least to a small child or interloper, correct plural possessive "y'all" as opposed to the incorrect, but often heard, "y'allses". Thank goodness for persevering parental units.

Only a Southerner could appreciate hearing, after a cold day in the launch field, the sound of " Have a seat and sit a spell. Y'all look as though a fresh mess of cheese grits and some coffee would be good about now."

Southernly Yours,

Da Dog:cool::D:cool::D
I asked that same question and the answer I got was simple and to the point:

A missile is meant to hit something.
A missile is meant to hit something.

But so are some rockets. Just look at the wide variety of unguided rockets that are slung under the wings of many military aircraft today. They come in pods and in singles, but are definitely "rockets" as they are unguided.

A missile nowadays is a guided weapon powered by a rocket motor. Those ungided rockets are not called missiles. They are called Unguided Rockets.