death blow


variants or deathblow
: a forcible stroke that kills a living thing : an act that ends the life of a person or animal
A gaping wound in the back of his head suggests the death blow was delivered by a halberd, a bladed pole weapon favored in the 15th century.Rachel Ehrenberg
… the tooth helps to dislocate the prey's neck vertebrae, the death blow most often dealt to small mammals and birds.Sarah A. Sloane
: an act or event that causes the end or failure of something
It shows how investors with risky business plans, unrealistic financial assumptions, and competing agendas can deliver a death blow to companies that otherwise could have survived.Emily Thornton
Nevis's fortunes declined after 1822, when the European sugar beet dealt a deathblow to the distant, inefficient cane mills of the Indies.Peter Theroux

Examples of death blow in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Taken together, the regulations could deliver a death blow in the United States to coal, the fuel that powered the country for much of the last century but has caused global environmental damage. Coral Davenport, New York Times, 25 Apr. 2024 Although a setback, those involved were careful to say the court’s decision was not a death blow to the affordable housing project. Will McCarthy, The Mercury News, 12 Mar. 2024 Cinema stops the written in its tracks and deals a death blow to its descendent: the imaginary. Elizabeth Barber, Harper's Magazine, 9 Feb. 2024 That, from now on, the spectacular imbalance of cinema’s means deals a death blow to the product that comes out of it. Elizabeth Barber, Harper's Magazine, 9 Feb. 2024 According to Wiebe, the death blow to the 16 dead and 22 non-releasable fish was the amount of time the DNR team spent transporting them in buckets, measuring, and fin-clipping them before putting them back in the water. Joe Cermele, Outdoor Life, 15 Feb. 2024 The death blow to the pay package, as McCormick lays it out, is that the Tesla board misled shareholders about its nature and the process that brought it into being. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 31 Jan. 2024 Indeed, Washington could deal a death blow to the app within a matter of days. Michael Sobolik, National Review, 23 Jan. 2024 At a news conference in November, opposition candidates Hou Yu-ih of the KMT, Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party and billionaire Foxconn founder Terry Gou sniped at each other while dealing a death blow to the unified ticket. Jeong Park, Los Angeles Times, 7 Jan. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of death blow was circa 1586

Dictionary Entries Near death blow

Cite this Entry

“Death blow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


death·​blow -ˌblō How to pronounce deathblow (audio)
: a destructive or killing stroke or event
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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