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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web For Aragon, Nancy’s new affair was literally almost a death blow. Town & Country, 5 Mar. 2023 After months of silence, Bannon and Epshteyn delivered what appeared to be a death blow to $FJB holders this month when Sarah posted an announcement on Discord on Feb. 13 that the duo was walking away from the project. Laura Romero, ABC News, 23 Feb. 2023 In 1964, the monumental discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation — direct evidence of a young, hot universe — would deal the final deathblow to the steady state model. Mara Johnson-groh, Discover Magazine, 3 Jan. 2020 Put it this way: This isn’t a deathblow for anyone involved. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 5 Sep. 2022 Could war in Ukraine be a deathblow for nuclear power? Joel Mathis, The Week, 28 Feb. 2022 The case’s deathblow came in January, when the Energy Department official told prosecutors the agency didn’t believe Mr. Chen’s foreign positions would have mattered in 2017. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, 26 Jan. 2022 Meleager, whose spear provides the final deathblow, has been moved from the left side of the marble composition to a central position in the painting. Los Angeles Times, 6 Dec. 2021 Concerned workers worry that the second lockdown could be a deathblow to their already struggling industry. Hollie Silverman, CNN, 23 Nov. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'death blow.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 26 Mar. 2023.

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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