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verb can·ni·bal·ize \ˈka-nə-bə-ˌlīz\

Simple Definition of cannibalize

  • : to remove parts from a machine, car, etc., to repair or build another one

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of cannibalize



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to take salvageable parts from (as a disabled machine) for use in building or repairing another machine b :  to make use of (a part taken from one thing) in building, repairing, or creating something else

  3. 2 :  to deprive of an essential part or element in creating or sustaining another facility or enterprise <the energy system has begun cannibalizing the economic system it is supposed to fuel — Barry Commoner>

  4. 3 :  to use or draw on material of (as another writer or an earlier work) <a biography that cannibalizes previous biographies>

  5. 4 :  to take (sales) away from an existing product by selling or being sold as a similar but new product usually from the same manufacturer; also :  to affect (as an existing product) adversely by cannibalizing sales

  6. intransitive verb
  7. 1 :  to practice cannibalism

  8. 2 :  to cannibalize one unit for the sake of another of the same kind


play \ˌka-nə-bə-lə-ˈzā-shən\ noun

Examples of cannibalize in a sentence

  1. He cannibalized one washing machine to fix another.

  2. Many parts of the engine were cannibalized from older cars.

Did You Know?

During World War II, military personnel often used salvageable parts from disabled vehicles and aircraft to repair other vehicles and aircraft. This sacrifice of one thing for the sake of another of its kind must have reminded some folks of cannibalism by humans and animals, because the process came to be known as cannibalizing. The armed forces of this time were also known to cannibalize-that is, to take away personnel from-units to build up other units. It didn't take long for this military slang to become civilianized. Since its demobilization, the term has been used in a variety of contexts.


First Known Use of cannibalize


Rhymes with cannibalize

accessorize, acclimatize, actualize, aerobicize, aestheticize, Africanize, allegorize, alphabetize, analogize, anatomize, anesthetize, animalize, annualize, antagonize, anthologize, anticlockwise, apologize, apostatize, apostrophize, arabicize, aromatize, automatize, bureaucratize, capitalize, categorize, catheterize, catholicize, characterize, collectivize, commercialize, commoditize, communalize, computerize, conservatize, containerize, contrariwise, conveyorize, cosmeticize, counterclockwise, criminalize, cross-fertilize, cut down to size, decentralize, decolonize, de-emphasize, de-energize, defeminize, deformalize, deglamorize, dehumanize, deionize, demagnetize, demobilize, democratize, demoralize, denationalize, deodorize, depersonalize, depolarize, depressurize, desensitize, destabilize, destigmatize, detribalize, devitalize, diabolize, digitalize, disenfranchise, disorganize, economize, emblematize, emotionalize, epitomize, epoxidize, eroticize, eternalize, evangelize, extemporize, externalize, familiarize, fanaticize, fictionalize, floor exercise, fool's paradise, formularize, free enterprise, gelatinize, generalize, geologize, Hispanicize, historicize, homogenize, hospitalize, hypothesize, idealize, illegalize, immobilize, immortalize, impersonalize, Indianize, indigenize, infantilize, initialize, internalize, italicize, legitimize, liberalize, literalize, lobotomize, lysogenize, macadamize, marginalize, metabolize, metastasize, militarize, mineralize, monopolize, mythologize, nationalize, naturalize, parenthesize, philosophize, poeticize, politicize, popularize, prioritize, proselytize, radicalize, reorganize, revitalize, ritualize, romanticize, secularize, self-fertilize, sensualize, sexualize, sovietize, subjectivize, suburbanize, subvocalize, systematize, temporalize, theologize, traditionalize, trivialize, ventriloquize, visualize

Seen and Heard

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of, relating to, or near a shore

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