A cannon is a specialized type of heavy weapon, designed to launch a large projectile. In the era of the Federation, the term cannon has also been coined to refer to directed energy weapons that fire projectile-like charges of energy, despite not being true projectile cannons. In this sense, the term has been used to refer to both hand-held weapons and vehicle-mounted weapons.

In idiomatic language, a "loose cannon" is someone or something unpredictable, and likely to cause damage if uncontrolled. James T. Kirk once considered Montgomery Scott a loose cannon after he traveled through time to rescue him from the Nexus. Ironically, Kirk himself was a noted loose cannon, considered by many in Starfleet, including Jean-Luc Picard. (ST novel: Engines of Destiny)

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