A cannon is a large-caliber gun classified as a type of artillery, and usually launches a projectile using explosive chemical propellant. In the past, gunpowder ("black powder") was the primary propellant before the invention of smokeless powder during the late 19th century. Cannons vary in gauge, effective range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees, depending on their intended use on the battlefield.
The word cannon is derived from several languages, in which the original definition can usually be translated as tube, cane, or reed. In the modern era, the term cannon has fallen into decline, replaced by guns or artillery, if not a more specific term such as howitzer or mortar, except for high-caliber automatic weapons firing bigger rounds than machine guns, called autocannons.
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