can·​ni·​bal·​ism | \ ˈka-nə-bə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce cannibalism (audio) \

Definition of cannibalism

1 : the usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being
2 : the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of the same kind
3 : an act of cannibalizing something

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Other Words from cannibalism

cannibalistic \ ˌka-​nə-​bə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce cannibalism (audio) \ adjective

Examples of cannibalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Call Me by Your Name colleagues Luca Guadagnino and Timothee Chalamet’s upcoming film about cannibalism. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, "Elizabeth Chambers Responds to Armie Hammer Allegations," 1 Feb. 2021 The character has evolved quite a bit from those days, but for me, there's no coming back from cannibalism. Andrew A. Smith Tribune News Service, Star Tribune, "7 most exciting superhero movies of 2021 (we hope)," 18 Jan. 2021 In other words, the revulsion to cannibalism is not innate. Cody Cassidy, Wired, "The Case for Cannibalism, or: How to Survive the Donner Party," 13 Jan. 2021 The character’s evolved quite a bit from those days, but for me, there’s no coming back from cannibalism. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Most exciting movies of 2021 (hopefully): Captain Comics," 9 Jan. 2021 Sir John Franklin’s 1845 Arctic expedition to find a northwest passage became the shame of Britain when it was discovered that his men, trapped for months in Canada, resorted to cannibalism. New York Times, "‘Icebound’ Takes Us Back to the Arctic, in All Its Terror and Splendor," 8 Jan. 2021 The report links other incidences of mutilation, rape and cannibalism to the 'Clean the blackboard' operation. Sandrine Amiel And Eoin Mcsweeney, CNN, "France opens investigations into former DR Congo rebel leader after Paris arrest," 5 Jan. 2021 As for the reports of cannibalism in Columbus' accounts, hard evidence as to whether this was truly a regular practice is still lacking. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Did Columbus find early Caribs in 15th century Caribbean? Jury is still out," 29 Dec. 2020 Whether the cannibalism happened or not (historians can debate this point), Waterman has made the Greely Expedition immediate and real. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "Grim fate of the Greely expedition is brought to life in work of historical fiction ‘Starvation Shore’," 20 Dec. 2020

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

1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for cannibalism

Time Traveler

The first known use of cannibalism was in 1634

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Statistics for cannibalism

Last Updated

13 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cannibalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for cannibalism


can·​ni·​bal·​ism | \ -bə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce cannibalism (audio) \

Medical Definition of cannibalism

1 : the usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being
2 : the eating of the flesh or the eggs of any animal by its own kind
3 : the pecking and tearing of the live flesh of its own members in a domestic poultry flock — compare pecking order
4 : oral sadism

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More from Merriam-Webster on cannibalism

Nglish: Translation of cannibalism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cannibalism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about cannibalism

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