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

transitive verb

: to cut off the head of : decapitate

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 More than 300 people died in prisons in 2021, some of whom were beheaded in horrific massacres that saw inmates armed with automatic weapons and even grenades. Wire Service, The Mercury News, 20 Feb. 2024 Kenyans were shocked when 31 women were killed in January after they were beaten, strangled or beheaded, activists and police said. Abdi Latif Dahir, New York Times, 19 Feb. 2024 In February 1554, Lady Jane and her husband were beheaded at the Tower of London. Jay Stahl, USA TODAY, 6 Feb. 2024 Justin Mohn, 32, was arrested on charges of first-degree murder and other counts after his father, Michael Mohn, was found beheaded in their family home in Middletown Township’s Levittown section Tuesday evening, court records show. David K. Li, NBC News, 1 Feb. 2024 Jews were burned alive in their homes, gang-raped, shot to death and beheaded. Armstrong Williams, Baltimore Sun, 26 Jan. 2024 Like Flock, Motz is interested in the lore of female vengeance: Judith beheading Holofernes, Medea killing her sons to spite Jason, Clytemnestra stabbing Agamemnon in the bath. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 California Man accused of nearly beheading woman in Northern California will undergo mental evaulation Sept. 13, 2022 Gallagher labeled Solano Landaeta’s act as revenge after Castro posted some messages on social media that enraged him. Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times, 31 Jan. 2024 Many of the methods Hamas used – beheading, burning, raping – were employed by the Nazis too. Leo Pearlman, Variety, 27 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'behead.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near behead

Cite this Entry

“Behead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


be·​head bi-ˈhed How to pronounce behead (audio)
: to cut off the head of

More from Merriam-Webster on behead

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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