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

African art figurines were found beheaded, with their limbs removed, and a school desegregation poster was damaged, according to Education Department employees and a congressional aide. NBC News, "African American employee's office vandalized inside Education Department," 23 Aug. 2019 We humans have been known to behead them, punch them, and attack them with baseball bats. Sigal Samuel, Vox, "Is it wrong to be mean and racist to robots?," 2 Aug. 2019 Meanwhile, Meg finds true love on the high seas, only to have it cruelly and most graphically taken away from her when her new boyfriend is beheaded. Dan Snierson,, "Family Guy season 18 trailer: See Peter with Beavis & Butt-head, Quagmire with too many cats," 20 July 2019 The mob sent the royal couple back to Paris, where they were eventually beheaded. And Gareth Jones, National Geographic, "Here’s why Versailles will blow your mind—and how to visit," 9 July 2019 Unfortunately, Cersei Lannister captures Missandei in the next episode and beheads her in front of Grey Worm and Daenerys, so plans change. Carrie Wittmer, Harper's BAZAAR, "Game of Thrones: Why It's Significant That Grey Worm Is Going to Naath," 28 May 2019 President Obama soon confirmed the news to the world: James Foley, a 40-year-old American journalist kidnapped in Syria two years earlier, was the American beheaded by Islamic State militants in a video circulating online. Eric Tucker,, "Journalist’s death leads to reshaping of US handling of hostages," 5 Aug. 2019 Jihadis share beheading videos, while right-wing extremists share the live stream of the attack in New Zealand. Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times, "Shootings Renew Debate Over How to Combat Domestic Terrorism," 5 Aug. 2019 At the capitol in Boise, Redman circulated a handout that included a picture of a severed hand and a man kneeling to be beheaded, offered as portrayals of the threat Sharia poses to Western society. USA Today, "These copycat bills on Sharia law and terrorism have no effect. So why do states keep passing them?," 18 July 2019

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

2 Sep 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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