be·​head | \bi-ˈhed, 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

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 Since last month, men with machetes have spread terror in several villages in Cabo Delgado province on the border with Tanzania, beheading 10 people in one attack, hacking others to death and burning vehicles and homes. Washington Post, "Extremist attacks rise in energy-rich province in Mozambique," 11 June 2018 Late on Saturday, militants targeted a boys’ school in Khogyani district, beheading three workers and setting fire to the school building. New York Times, "Sikhs and Hindus Bear Brunt of Latest Afghanistan Suicide Attack," 1 July 2018 As any hot-blooded Texan would, her husband promptly grabbed a shovel and beheaded the snake. Christina Capatides, CBS News, "Severed rattlesnake head bites man who decapitated it," 6 June 2018 Earlier research on her lineage appeared to show that one of Harry's ancestors, King Henry VIII, beheaded one of her ancestors, Lord Hussey, first Baron Hussey of Sleaford, in the 1500s. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Technically 17th Cousins," 30 Nov. 2017

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

9 Dec 2018

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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 \
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).


living or existing for a long time

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