torpedo (n.) Look up torpedo at
1520s, "electric ray" (flat fish that produces an electric charge to stun prey or for defense), from Latin torpedo "electric ray," originally "numbness, sluggishness" (the fish so called from the effect of being jolted by the ray's electric discharges), from torpere "be numb" (see torpor). The sense of "explosive device used to blow up enemy ships" is first recorded 1776, as a floating mine; the self-propelled version is from c.1900. Related: Torpedic.
torpedo (v.) Look up torpedo at
"destroy or sink (a ship) by a torpedo," 1874, from torpedo (n.). Also used late 19c. of blowing open oil wells. Figurative sense attested from 1895. Related: Torpedoed; torpedoing.