butch·​er | \ ˈbu̇-chər How to pronounce butcher (audio) \

Definition of butcher

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a person who slaughters animals or dresses their flesh
b : a dealer in meat
2 : one that kills ruthlessly or brutally
3 : one that bungles or botches
4 : a vendor especially on trains or in theaters


butchered; butchering\ ˈbu̇ch-​riŋ How to pronounce butchering (audio) , ˈbu̇-​chə-​ \

Definition of butcher (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to slaughter and dress for market butcher hogs
2 : to kill in a barbarous manner
3 : botch butchered the play

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Examples of butcher in a Sentence

Noun the newest intern on the campaign is a butcher when it comes to writing press releases Verb They've hired someone to butcher the hogs. Many innocent people were butchered under his regime. The band has butchered my favorite song.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Still, the absence of an Indian restaurant – until now – is glaring: Hollywood is practically a United Nations of food, home to a cornucopia of Russian bakeries and Greek imports and kosher butchers and Mediterranean grocers and Thai markets. Phillip Valys, sun-sentinel.com, "Sajna Indian Cuisine, now open, is Hollywood’s only Indian restaurant. Why did it take so long?," 21 Nov. 2019 Next was a quick visit to one of Sadr City’s oldest markets, where butchers and fishmongers, greengrocers and cloth sellers work cheek by jowl. New York Times, "‘Our Patience Is Over’: Why Iraqis Are Protesting," 20 Nov. 2019 Where to Buy: If possible, ask a butcher to cut cutlets from the boneless pork shoulder. Olga Massov, The Denver Post, "Fry to greater heights with this crispy restaurant-worthy pork milanese," 8 Nov. 2019 The restaurant primarily sources its ingredients from local butchers and backyard farmers. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "Borikén Juke Joint brings new flavors to downtown Lorain," 6 Nov. 2019 Alternatively, preserve the pipe’s industrial finish with a butcher’s wax coating. Dan Roe, Popular Mechanics, "Things Come Apart: Milwaukee Cordless Band Saw," 20 Oct. 2019 In 1913, an employee of the Ford Motor Company went to the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant, in Chicago, to study how hogs moved through the facility on conveyor belts while butchers stayed in place, making the same cut again and again. Charles Duhigg, The New Yorker, "Is Amazon Unstoppable?," 10 Oct. 2019 Kabobs are a huge part of grill culture in Iran; butchers set up charcoal grills from all parts of the animal at breakfast. SFChronicle.com, "Let’s look at immigrants’ contributions to some of our favorite foods," 24 Sep. 2019 The remains of a high-end Roman butcher shop in south Devon indicates that the influence of the Roman Empire stretched even further into Great Britain than previously believed. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Upscale Butcher Shop Suggests Romans Were More Widespread in Britain Than Previously Thought," 18 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For this review, Times' restaurant critic Pete Wells pulled out his own steak knife and butchered Peter Luger. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Iconic New York steakhouse Peter Luger gets broiled in NYT restaurant review," 29 Oct. 2019 This is the country whose festering religion brought us 9/11, and in whose embassy was butchered a respected columnist for the Washington Post. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Trump should allow Saudis to pay for their own wars," 20 Sep. 2019 Travolta was presenting the award for Video of the Year alongside Queen Latifa at the VMAs on Monday night, a chance to redeem himself after butchering Idina Manzel's name during the 2014 Oscars. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "John Travolta tries to give VMA to drag queen dressed as Taylor Swift," 27 Aug. 2019 The moose, determined to be about 2-years-old, was butchered for meat, which will be donated to a family in need through a Fish and Game program. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "A moose charged his 3-year-old son in an Anchorage park. He shot and killed it.," 27 Aug. 2019 More than 650 elephants now inhabit Gorongosa—a robust increase since the days of the country’s civil war (1977-1992), when most of the park’s elephants were butchered for ivory and meat to buy guns and ammunition. David Quammen, National Geographic, "How one of Africa’s great parks is rebounding from war," 12 June 2019 Various hunter-gatherer societies around the world have used versions of this tactic over the last several thousand years, leaving piles of animal bones (many with evidence of butchering or cracking to get at marrow) at the bases of ancient bluffs. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Native Americans managed the prairie for better bison hunts," 25 July 2018 For a few hundred thousand years after the split, the ancestors of living humans left behind such basic tools as stone axes for butchering carcasses and spear blades for hunting. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, "Neanderthals, the World’s First Misunderstood Artists," 22 Feb. 2018 Huth serves around 300 orders a week, butchering 10 fish in the process. Kate Kraderbloomberg, Los Angeles Times, "This farm-raised salmon is challenging fancy tuna for king of the seafood world," 14 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'butcher.' 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 butcher


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1562, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for butcher


Middle English bocher, from Anglo-French, from buc he-goat, probably of Celtic origin; akin to Middle Irish bocc he-goat — more at buck entry 1

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Time Traveler for butcher

Time Traveler

The first known use of butcher was in the 13th century

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Statistics for butcher

Last Updated

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Butcher.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/butchering. Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for butcher


How to pronounce butcher (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of butcher

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: someone who cuts and sells meat in a shop
: someone who kills animals and prepares their meat to be eaten
: a shop that sells meat



English Language Learners Definition of butcher (Entry 2 of 2)

: to kill (an animal) and prepare its meat for sale
: to kill (people or animals) in a brutal and cruel way
informal : to do (something) very badly : to make a mess of (something)


butch·​er | \ ˈbu̇-chər How to pronounce butcher (audio) \

Kids Definition of butcher

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person whose business is killing animals for sale as food
2 : a dealer in meat
3 : a person who kills in large numbers or in a brutal manner


butchered; butchering

Kids Definition of butcher (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to kill and prepare (an animal) for food
3 : to make a mess of : botch I let my mother cut my hair and she butchered it.

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More from Merriam-Webster on butcher

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for butcher

Spanish Central: Translation of butcher

Nglish: Translation of butcher for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of butcher for Arabic Speakers

Comments on butcher

What made you want to look up butcher? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


very cautious or careful

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