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


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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 In many messages, Patz threatened to enter the athletes' homes and behead them or their family members, the FBI said. CBS News, "Gambler pleads guilty to threatening Tampa Bay Rays players: "Your family will be beheaded"," 12 Mar. 2021 Alex Dickerson was trying to behead some of you Sunday, but don’t take it personally. Henry Schulman,, "Giants’ Dickerson goes headhunting, but is no match for sturdy (cardboard) fans," 6 Sep. 2020 Later on, insurgents beheaded the police officer and threw his body on the road. Fahim Abed, New York Times, "Afghan War Casualty Report: March 2020," 5 Mar. 2020 In December, a Saudi court convicted eight men in connection with the crime, sentencing three to prison terms and five to death, which is usually carried out in the kingdom by beheading. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "Khashoggi’s Son Says Family Pardons His Father’s Killers," 22 May 2020 Seven speakers were executed by beheading between 1394 and 1535 -- which led to some reluctance among lawmakers to take up the post. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "Order! UK Parliament elects Lindsay Hoyle as new Speaker," 4 Nov. 2019 Napoleon, unable to imprison or control such a multitude, ordered them all beheaded or shot. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Napoleon has it all over Trump when it comes to spinning plague propaganda," 23 Apr. 2020 Near a public park, the police found a mother and daughter who had been raped and beheaded. Christine Smallwood, Harper's Magazine, "In Harm’s Way," 30 Mar. 2020 The detainees were half of a cell of four ISIS Britons who handled Western hostages — some of whom were eventually beheaded on propaganda videos — and whose victims nicknamed them the Beatles because of their accents. New York Times, "Citing Death Penalty, U.K. Court Blocks Giving Evidence on ISIS ‘Beatles’ to U.S.," 25 Mar. 2020

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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Statistics for behead

Last Updated

24 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Behead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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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