ex·​e·​cute ˈek-si-ˌkyüt How to pronounce execute (audio)
executed; executing; executes

transitive verb

: to carry (something) out fully : to put (something) completely into effect
execute a command
executed the plan
The pilot executed an emergency landing.
: to do what is provided or required by (something)
The police executed the search warrant.
: to put (someone) to death especially in compliance with a legal sentence
: to make or produce (something, such as a work of art) especially by carrying out a design
a painting executed in bright colors
: to perform what is required to give validity to (something)
execute a deed
: perform
execute a piece of music
The Owls scored on a trick play touchdown and executed some impeccable defense …Sean Farrell
computing : to cause a system to perform the tasks indicated by (encoded instructions)
The exploits allowed the attackers to execute malicious code directly on the web server.Dan Goodin

intransitive verb

: to perform properly or skillfully the fundamentals of a sport or of a particular play
Before the game, [NBA Coach Taylor] Jenkins told his players they needed to be better in the first three quarters and execute better in the last.Terry Davis
of computer code : to cause a system to perform indicated tasks
When the document is opened …, the hidden code executes and exploits a vulnerability to download malware onto the user's PC.Software World
Choose the Right Synonym for execute

kill, slay, murder, assassinate, dispatch, execute mean to deprive of life.

kill merely states the fact of death caused by an agency in any manner.

killed in an accident
frost killed the plants

slay is a chiefly literary term implying deliberateness and violence but not necessarily motive.

slew thousands of the Philistines

murder specifically implies stealth and motive and premeditation and therefore full moral responsibility.

convicted of murdering a rival

assassinate applies to deliberate killing openly or secretly often for political motives.

terrorists assassinated the Senator

dispatch stresses quickness and directness in putting to death.

dispatched the sentry with one bullet

execute stresses putting to death as a legal penalty.

executed by lethal gas

perform, execute, discharge, accomplish, achieve, effect, fulfill mean to carry out or into effect.

perform implies action that follows established patterns or procedures or fulfills agreed-upon requirements and often connotes special skill.

performed gymnastics

execute stresses the carrying out of what exists in plan or in intent.

executed the hit-and-run

discharge implies execution and completion of appointed duties or tasks.

discharged his duties

accomplish stresses the successful completion of a process rather than the means of carrying it out.

accomplished everything they set out to do

achieve adds to accomplish the implication of conquered difficulties.

achieve greatness

effect adds to achieve an emphasis on the inherent force in the agent capable of surmounting obstacles.

effected sweeping reforms

fulfill implies a complete realization of ends or possibilities.

fulfilled their ambitions

Examples of execute in a Sentence

He was captured, tried, and executed for murder. They carefully executed the plan. The pilot executed an emergency landing. The quarterback executed the play perfectly. execute the provisions of the will
Recent Examples on the Web Sometimes, the cost to fight might be too high, as the government in power could imprison or execute anyone who tries to change the system. Julie Vandusky-Allen, The Conversation, 29 Sep. 2023 Here are details on the five new CMA Touring Award categories: Crew of the Year This award honors the entire crew of a country music tour that executed a multi-city run of shows during the eligibility period. Paul Grein, Billboard, 26 Sep. 2023 John Forrest Parker, the other man that prosecutors said was paid to kill Elizabeth Sennett, was executed in 2010. Alabama has had some issues carrying out executions in recent years. CBS News, 26 Sep. 2023 Even the moisture indicator is present and accounted for, executed here in gray and white. Oren Hartov, Robb Report, 25 Sep. 2023 The speed to execute has risen exponentially, requiring all businesses to rethink their competitive advantages. Zack Kass, Fortune, 22 Sep. 2023 But the losers of each round are executed in the survival game until one victor remains and takes home the cash prize. Carly Thomas, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Sep. 2023 In four stories published so far this year, The Post has uncovered new details about the tactics China is employing to execute what amounts to a global leap. Washington Post Staff, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 Bernstein explained that without the proper amount of sleep, everyday activities can become difficult to execute. Kaitlin Vogel, Health, 15 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French executer, from execucion execution

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of execute was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near execute

Cite this Entry

“Execute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/execute. Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


ex·​e·​cute ˈek-sə-ˌkyüt How to pronounce execute (audio)
executed; executing
: to put into effect : carry out, perform
execute a plan
execute a dance step
: to do what is required by
the computer executed the first line of the program
: to put to death according to a legal order
: to make or produce by carrying out a design
a statue executed in bronze

Legal Definition


transitive verb
ex·​e·​cute ˈek-si-ˌkyüt How to pronounce execute (audio)
executed; executing
: perform: as
: to carry out fully
includes not only executed violence, but also threatened violenceLouisiana Civil Code
: to do what is provided or required by
execute a contract
execute a search warrant
: to deem (a use in property) to confer full seisin in a cestui que use by operation of the Statute of Uses
: to perform what is required to give validity to
especially : to complete (as by signing and delivering) in proper form
execute a note
execute a deed
: to put to death in compliance with a judicial death sentence

More from Merriam-Webster on execute

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