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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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 The verdicts also raise the prospect that Saudi Arabia could behead the men who carried out the killing while shielding those who ordered it., "BEIRUT — A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced five men to death and three to prison terms over the killing of Saudi dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year, the kingdom’s public prosecutor said Monday.," 24 Dec. 2019 While subject to appeal, the verdicts also raised the possibility that Saudi Arabia could behead the men who carried out the killing while shielding those who ordered it. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "Saudi Death Sentences in Khashoggi Killing Fail to Dispel Questions," 23 Dec. 2019 The group beheaded seven American, British and Japanese journalists and aid workers and a group of Syrian soldiers, boasting of the butchery in videos posted online. Mehmet Guzel, The Denver Post, "Turkey presses Syrian assault as thousands flee the fighting," 10 Oct. 2019 Those include 2,000 foreigners, among them two British militants believed to be part of a cell that beheaded hostages. Anchorage Daily News, "Turkey presses Syrian assault as thousands flee the fighting," 11 Oct. 2019 Or perhaps the flirty Katherine Howard, beheaded at the Tower of London for her alleged infidelity? Dominic P. Papatola, Twin Cities, "Theater review: “SIX” is history and music served up with good humor and plenty of sass," 4 Dec. 2019 Many were executed and their bodies beheaded, with their heads placed on spikes. Scott’s team has spent years getting ready for the reenactment — obtaining permits, reaching out to the local community and making costumes. Washington Post, "Remembering heroes: Reenactors recreate slave uprising," 9 Nov. 2019 He was found to have strangled and beat Carnes, before beheading her and stuffing her corpse into a barrel. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "From convicted murderers to child rapists, here are Bevin's most controversial pardons," 18 Dec. 2019 After all, high-empathy Americans presumably felt more acutely the suffering of the in-group members who were beheaded, on camera, by the out-group that Baghdadi led. Wired, "Empathy Is Tearing Us Apart," 9 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for behead

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Behead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for behead


How to pronounce behead (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for behead

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with behead

Spanish Central: Translation of behead

Nglish: Translation of behead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of behead for Arabic Speakers

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