Here, Tim Bowen launches into an avid description of the collocates of this particularly power-packed word.

The verb launch, meaning 'to propel', is derived from the French verb lancer ('to throw'). Despite its apparently limited meaning, launch has numerous collocations. The first group are related to the idea of propelling something into the air, so one can launch a missile, launch a rocket or launch a satellite, as in ‘The agency will launch a new weather satellite next month’. It can also be used with ships, as in ‘The QE2 was launched by Queen Elizabeth II in 1967’, and is used to refer to the formal placing of a ship in the water for the first time. In the sense of ‘propel’, launch can also be used more figuratively, as in ‘The accused was alleged to have launched a stream of abuse at police officers’.

Launch is also used to mean 'initiate' or 'instigate' and has a rich store of collocations in this sense. A country can launch an attack on another country and the same expression can be used figuratively in a sporting context, as in 'There was still time for City to launch one final attack on the United goal'. In the sense of 'initiate', launch can be used with the word inquiry, as in 'The government is to launch an inquiry into the affair’. In a similar vein, the police can launch a murder investigation.

In the sense of starting to sell something new, products and services can also be launched onto the market, as in ‘The company has announced it will launch a new version of its software in January' or ‘Fiat is planning to launch 25 new models in the next four years’. Finally, publishers also launch new magazines and newspapers, as in ‘They have announced plans to launch an upmarket sports magazine’.