cannibal

noun

can·​ni·​bal ˈka-nə-bəl How to pronounce cannibal (audio)
: one that eats the flesh of its own kind

Examples of cannibal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Set in a world ravaged by diseases and acid rains, the film follows a mute gravedigger who joins forces with fellow survivors to avenge his colleague’s death at the hands of cannibals. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 12 May 2024 There was so much gay subtext between the FBI profiler (Hugh Dancy) and the most famous TV cannibal of all time (Mads Mikkelsen) that the show single-handedly kept the fan-fiction lights on at Tumblr. Ew Staff, EW.com, 17 Mar. 2023 Leatherface — a sadistic Ed Gein-esque killer armed with the titular power tool and donning a mask made of human skin — and his murderous cannibal family find their new victims in free-spirited friends cruising through rural Texas. James Mercadante, EW.com, 27 Oct. 2023 Movies like 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — in which a group of friends stumble upon a family of cannibals and are chased by a guy wielding a chainsaw — which came out just before the end of the Vietnam War. Brianna Scott, NPR, 1 Mar. 2024 The 58-year-old Danish actor has played cold-hearted billionaires and evil sorcerers, skinheads and Vikings, Nazis and serial-killing cannibals. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 1 Feb. 2024 In the 1991 thriller based on Thomas Harris’s 1988 bestseller, Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist and psychotic cannibal who’s locked up in an institution for the criminally insane. Eric Andersson, Peoplemag, 20 Jan. 2024 There have been a lot of cannibals popping up in pop culture recently. Brenna Ehrlich, Rolling Stone, 5 Sep. 2023 Timothée Chalamet is a country-boy cannibal in Bones and All. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 4 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cannibal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

New Latin Canibalis Carib, from Spanish Caníbal, from Taino Caniba, of Cariban origin; akin to Carib kariʔna Carib, person

First Known Use

1541, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cannibal was in 1541

Dictionary Entries Near cannibal

Cite this Entry

“Cannibal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cannibal. Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

cannibal

noun
can·​ni·​bal ˈkan-ə-bəl How to pronounce cannibal (audio)
: a human being or an animal that eats its own kind
Etymology

from New Latin Canibalis "Carib," from Spanish Caníbal (same meaning), from Taino (American Indian language of the Greater Antilles) Caniba (same meaning), of Carib origin

Word Origin
On Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the New World the Indigenous peoples whom he encountered in Cuba and Hispaniola told him about a people living to their east, who periodically raided them and whom they greatly feared. In his log Columbus recorded a number of phonetically similar names for this people, including caníbales and caribes. The Spanish court historian Petrus Martyr wrote a Latin account of Columbus's discoveries, first printed in 1516, that used these two words and widely distributed them throughout Europe. In Petrus Martyr's words, "the inhabitants of these islands assert that the Canibales or Caribes are eaters of human flesh." Later, the meaning of the two words diverged. Caribes was applied to the Carib-speaking peoples of the Lesser Antilles and South America who were so feared by their neighbors; it is also ultimately the base of the word Caribbean. Canibales passed into English as a generic word for any creature that eats the flesh of its own kind.

Medical Definition

cannibal

noun
can·​ni·​bal ˈkan-ə-bəl How to pronounce cannibal (audio)
: one that eats the flesh of its own kind
cannibal adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on cannibal

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!