death blow

noun
variants: or deathblow play \ˈdeth-ˌblō\

Definition of death blow

1 : 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
2 : 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

Recent Examples of death blow from the Web

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.

First Known Use of death blow

circa 1586

in the meaning defined at sense

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