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 cannibalistic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of cannibalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web More: Michigan man accused of cannibalism sued in new case 'straight out of a horror movie' Both men were part of a group of Clemens employees living at the motel. Don Reid, Detroit Free Press, "Miami man charged in stabbing death of Texas man at Mich. motel," 16 June 2020 Diamond essentially argued that the destruction of the island's ecological environment triggered a downward spiral of internal warfare, population decline, and cannibalism, resulting in an eventual breakdown of social and political structures. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New study challenges popular “collapse” hypothesis for Easter Island," 1 June 2020 Paleontologists only have compelling evidence of cannibalism occurring in two other large dinosaurs, one of which is Tyrannosaurus rex. Popular Science, "Dinosaur cannibalism was real, and Colorado paleontologists have the bones to prove it," 29 May 2020 Now he's accused of murder and cannibalism Police say Latunski admitted to killing Bacon and cooking and eating his testicles. Darcie Moran, Detroit Free Press, "State calls Grindr cannibalism suspect incompetent to stand trial, report says," 24 Feb. 2020 After discovering that peasants turned to cannibalism during the Russian famine in the 1920s, he was spurred on to avoid a similar situation. The Economist, "Preppers For some Britons, coronavirus means apocalypse soon," 5 Mar. 2020 The Brothers Grimm should really be outraged that their simple story about child abuse, malnutrition, cannibalism and witchcraft has been so twisted. Mark Kennedy, Houston Chronicle, "‘Gretel & Hansel’ is a real horror — as in horrible," 31 Jan. 2020 The loss of both ships and the deaths of all the men is a story still plagued by unanswered questions and the very real horror of the cannibalism some engaged in before all perished. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "New book explores how clairvoyants and spiritual fads followed 19th century British Arctic expeditions," 7 Dec. 2019 Last year, researchers in France reported that climate change drove some Neanderthals to cannibalism. Fox News, "Neanderthal discovery sheds new light on human history," 6 Feb. 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

24 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cannibalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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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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