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 attack was sparked by Saudi Arabia’s execution—by beheading—of a popular Shiite cleric. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "The Hostage Drama in Iran Drags On—Forty Years Later," 4 Nov. 2019 For women who have been divorced, beheaded and died – among other indignities – this is an awfully upbeat group. Kathy Berdan, Twin Cities, "An audience with the queens: ‘SIX’ cast members talk about remixing history in musical coming to the Ordway," 2 Nov. 2019 Enemies were crucified, burned alive, drowned in cages, beheaded with slow saws, while everything was filmed and posted online for the world to observe and dread. The Economist, "Obituary: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died on October 26th," 2 Nov. 2019 But this year, the Bawdens’ ideas have rubbed some the wrong way, with many in particular taking issue with a large guillotine beheading baby dolls. Rachel Desantis,, "Utah Family Slammed for Halloween Decor Featuring Guillotine Beheading a Fake Baby: 'Way Too Far'," 31 Oct. 2019 His policy would have left the terrorist al-Baghdadi alive to behead more Americans. Fox News, "Liz Cheney knocks Rand Paul for Syria tweet amid al-Baghdadi raid," 28 Oct. 2019 His policy would have left the terrorist al-Baghdadi alive to behead more Americans. Benjamin Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "As U.S. caught up to ISIS leader, Rand Paul was urging a Syria pullout. Liz Cheney noticed," 28 Oct. 2019 Shown at that event: a violent video showing Trump shooting, stabbing and beheading both members of the media and some Democratic opponents, according to The New York Times. Anchorage Daily News, "In unprecedented move, Trump awards next G-7 summit to his own Miami-area resort," 17 Oct. 2019 Prosecutors have said Henry watched Islamic State propaganda videos of foreign terrorists beheading civilians and fighting overseas, admiring their actions and considering them brave. Washington Post, "Defense seeks competency exam for man accused of terror plot," 17 Sep. 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

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for behead

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

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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

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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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