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.
Examples of cannibalize in a Sentence
He cannibalized one washing machine to fix another.
Many parts of the engine were cannibalized from older cars.
Recent Examples on the WebIn the world of supplemental Jewish learning (synagogue schools), bar/bat mitzvah has cannibalized Jewish education.—The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Sep. 2023 Like a social media app cannibalizing key features from a competitor, Travis has become known for assimilating the qualities of others and assuming them as his own, the rap version of Rogue from X-Men.—Hazlitt, 23 Aug. 2023 But some said the higher salaries have meant that centers are cannibalizing the rest of the mental health system by drawing providers away from other programs.—Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 27 July 2023 Within the program budget, demand programs shouldn’t cannibalize the budget for reputation, engagement, enablement, and operations program budgets.—Forrester, Forbes, 24 Jan. 2023 Tutoring cannibalizes public education, siphoning off students in the upper grades and rewarding teachers for taking their energies to private lessons instead of public classrooms.—Vivian Yee, New York Times, 6 Aug. 2023 Their primary goal was to sell just enough units to help the manufacturer reach its new car fleet’s tailpipe emissions target without cannibalizing sales of profitable combustion engine cars.—Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 2 Aug. 2023 Wall Street Journal has a profile of the company out this week that’s a fascinating look at how Barnes & Noble is learning to compete with Amazon without cannibalizing itself in the process.—Alex Cranz, The Verge, 29 July 2023 In addition to a difficult overall race, HBO will be faced with a different type of challenge: not cannibalizing themselves.—Emily Longeretta, Variety, 3 May 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cannibalize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.