be·​head | \ bi-ˈhed How to pronounce behead (audio) , bē-\
beheaded; beheading; beheads

Definition of behead

transitive verb

: to cut off the head of : decapitate

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Synonyms for behead


decapitate, guillotine, head

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Examples of behead in a Sentence

Louis XVI was beheaded in 1793. Mary, Queen of Scots, was beheaded for plotting against Queen Elizabeth.

Recent Examples on the Web

Pegg plays a cop on the trail of a serial killer beheading the people of a quiet English town; Frost, his bumbling sidekick. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The 28 Best Halloween Movies on Netflix," 11 Oct. 2018 The country’s crucifixions include beheading the criminal and then putting his body on display with the arms outstretched. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Burmese man crucified in Saudi Arabia amid country's diplomatic dispute with Canada," 9 Aug. 2018 In addition, Belafonte denied showing Angel, Phoenix and Madison ISIS beheading videos, which Brown previously claimed left the girls disturbed. Maria Pasquini,, "Mel B Appears to Have Mark on Her Face as Court Battle with Ex-Husband Continues," 26 Mar. 2018 As the ditty goes: One died, one survived, two de-wedded, two beheaded. Karla Adam, Washington Post, "How the Church of England has evolved on divorce, from Henry VIII to Meghan Markle," 15 May 2018 And remember our President laughing, golfing and fist bumping after an American was beheaded? Fox News, "Watters' Words: The return of Barack Obama," 21 July 2018 In the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar Province, officials said three brothers were beheaded by the group late on Sunday. Mujib Mashal, New York Times, "After Each Attack He Carried the Wounded. Then He Became a Victim.," 23 Apr. 2018 The animal who beheaded the woman in Oklahoma should be given a very fast trial and then the death penalty. Jennifer Hijazi, Vox, "Trump wants to see the death penalty come “into vogue” again. He’s wanted that for years.," 28 Oct. 2018 Éponine from Les Misérables Éponine, French friend-zone icon, makes pining after hot student Marius look as easy as beheading someone with a guillotine. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Single This Halloween? 11 Costumes Guaranteed to Make You Stand Out From the Crowd," 12 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'behead.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of behead

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for behead

Last Updated

1 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for behead

The first known use of behead was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for behead



English Language Learners Definition of behead

: to cut off the head of (someone) especially as a punishment


be·​head | \ bi-ˈhed How to pronounce behead (audio) \
beheaded; beheading

Kids Definition of behead

: to cut off the head of

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More from Merriam-Webster on behead

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with behead

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for behead

Spanish Central: Translation of behead

Nglish: Translation of behead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of behead for Arabic Speakers

Comments on behead

What made you want to look up behead? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an enemy or opponent

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