A raygun is a science-fiction directed-energy weapon that releases energy, usually with destructive effect.
They have various alternate names: laser gun, beam gun, death ray, phaser, ray gun, blaster, laser pistol, atomic space guns, zap guns, etc. In most stories, when activated, a ray gun emits a ray, typically visible, usually lethal if it hits a human target, often destructive if it hits mechanical objects, with properties and other effects unspecified or varying.
A very early example of a raygun is the Heat-Ray featured in H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds (1898). Science fiction during the 1920s described death rays. Early science fiction often described or depicted raygun beams making bright light and loud noise like lightning or large electric arcs.
According to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the word "ray gun" was first used by Victor Rousseau in 1917, in a passage from The Messiah of the Cylinder:
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