de·​cap·​i·​tate | \ di-ˈka-pə-ˌtāt How to pronounce decapitate (audio) , dē- \
decapitated; decapitating

Definition of decapitate

transitive verb

: to cut off the head of : behead

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Other Words from decapitate

decapitation \ di-​ˌka-​pə-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce decapitation (audio) , dē-​ \ noun
decapitator \ di-​ˈka-​pə-​ˌtā-​tər How to pronounce decapitator (audio) , dē-​ \ noun

Synonyms for decapitate


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Did You Know?

Decapitation is a quick and fairly painless way to go, so it was once considered suitable only for nobles like Sir Walter Raleigh, Mary Queen of Scots, and two of Henry VIII's unfortunate wives. The invention of the guillotine in the 18th century was meant to make execution swifter and more painless than hanging or a badly aimed blow by the executioner's sword.

Examples of decapitate in a Sentence

a particularly gruesome series of murders in which the victims were decapitated
Recent Examples on the Web Mariamman, on the other hand, carries a scimitar with which to smite and decapitate the demons of virulence and illness. Tulasi Srinivas, The Conversation, "India’s goddesses of contagion provide protection in the pandemic – just don’t make them angry," 15 June 2020 Still, the world's largest hornets do decapitate entire hives of honeybees, and that crucial food pollinator is already in big trouble. CBS News, "Forget "murder hornets," experts say — this is the real "murder insect"," 12 May 2020 Measuring up to 2 inches long, the world’s largest hornets have been known to wipe out bee colonies within hours: The big bugs decapitate entire hives of honeybees, and that crucial food pollinator is already in big trouble. Fox News, "'Murder hornet' kills Spain man, report says," 12 May 2020 The hornet’s head is orange with large dark eyes and large jaws capable of decapitating its prey. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Are murder hornets coming to Arizona? Here's what we know about the scary-looking insects," 5 May 2020 With queens that can grow to 2 inches long, Asian giant hornets can use mandibles shaped like spiked shark fins to wipe out a honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating the bees and flying away with the thoraxes to feed their young. Mike Baker,, "‘Murder hornets’ arrive in US for first time," 2 May 2020 Not electrocuted, starved, or decapitated by wind turbines. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 9 Apr. 2020 Gus Malzahn showed off his wiliness as a play-caller, Anders Carlson morphed into a kicking god and Shaun Shivers almost decapitated a player. Giana Han, al, "Top 5 Auburn and Alabama games from this season to rewatch," 21 Mar. 2020 County Prosecutor's Office/Wikipedia/Fair Use TED BUNDY: Another infamous American mass murderer, Bundy kidnapped, raped and decapitated at least 30 people between 1974 and 1978. Tim Darnell, ajc, "Georgia is set to execute another inmate Wednesday evening," 13 Nov. 2019

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

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First Known Use of decapitate

circa 1611, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for decapitate

Late Latin decapitatus, past participle of decapitare, from Latin de- + capit-, caput head — more at head

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Time Traveler for decapitate

Time Traveler

The first known use of decapitate was circa 1611

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Statistics for decapitate

Last Updated

24 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decapitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for decapitate


How to pronounce decapitate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of decapitate

: to cut off the head of (a person or animal)


de·​cap·​i·​tate | \ di-ˈka-pə-ˌtāt How to pronounce decapitate (audio) \
decapitated; decapitating

Kids Definition of decapitate

: to cut off the head of : behead


transitive verb
de·​cap·​i·​tate | \ di-ˈkap-ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce decapitate (audio) \
decapitated; decapitating

Medical Definition of decapitate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cut off the head of

Other Words from decapitate

decapitation \ -​ˌkap-​ə-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce decapitation (audio) \ noun


de·​cap·​i·​tate | \ -ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce decapitate (audio) , -ət-ət How to pronounce decapitate (audio) \

Medical Definition of decapitate (Entry 2 of 2)

: relating to or being a decapitated experimental animal

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