Definition of cannibalize
1a : to take salvageable parts from (as a disabled machine) for use in building or repairing another machineb : to make use of (a part taken from one thing) in building, repairing, or creating something else
2 : to deprive of an essential part or element in creating or sustaining another facility or enterprise the energy system has begun cannibalizing the economic system it is supposed to fuel — Barry Commoner
3 : to use or draw on material of (as another writer or an earlier work) a biography that cannibalizes previous biographies
4 : to take (sales) away from an existing product by selling or being sold as a similar but new product usually from the same manufacturer; also : to affect (as an existing product) adversely by cannibalizing sales
1 : to practice cannibalism
2 : to cannibalize one unit for the sake of another of the same kind
cannibalizationplay \ˌka-nə-bə-lə-ˈzā-shən\ noun
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Examples of cannibalize in a sentence
He cannibalized one washing machine to fix another.
Many parts of the engine were cannibalized from older cars.
Did You Know?
During World War II, military personnel often used salvageable parts from disabled vehicles and aircraft to repair other vehicles and aircraft. This sacrifice of one thing for the sake of another of its kind must have reminded some folks of cannibalism by humans and animals, because the process came to be known as cannibalizing. The armed forces of this time were also known to cannibalize-that is, to take away personnel from-units to build up other units. It didn't take long for this military slang to become civilianized. Since its demobilization, the term has been used in a variety of contexts.
First Known Use of cannibalize
CANNIBALIZE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of cannibalize for English Language Learners
: to remove parts from a machine, car, etc., to repair or build another one
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