ex·​e·​cute | \ˈek-si-ˌkyüt \
executed; executing

Definition of execute 

transitive verb

1 : to carry out fully : put completely into effect execute a command

2 : to do what is provided or required by execute a decree

3 : to put to death especially in compliance with a legal sentence

4 : to make or produce (something, such as a work of art) especially by carrying out a design

5 : to perform what is required to give validity to execute a deed

6 : play execute a piece of music

intransitive verb

1 : to perform properly or skillfully the fundamentals of a sport or of a particular play never had a team execute better— Bobby Knight

2 : to perform indicated tasks according to encoded instructions used of a computer program or routine

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Other Words from execute

executable \ ˈek-​si-​ˌkyü-​tə-​bəl \ adjective

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

But then — with permission from the driver — executes those maneuvers itself. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot is like Waze on steroids," 6 Nov. 2018 Edmund Zagorski was executed last week, the first man to die in Tennessee’s electric chair in a decade. Jacob Gershman, WSJ, "Tennessee Death-Row Inmates Demand Execution by Firing Squad," 6 Nov. 2018 Tennessee has executed only one person in Leuchter’s electric chair. Travis Loller, The Seattle Times, "Electric chair builder worried Tennessee execution will fail," 31 Oct. 2018 The daring mission, executed over several days, quickly gathered an international audience of well-wishers hoping for the boys' safe return. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Prince William Meets with British Divers Who Helped Rescue the Thai Boys Soccer Team from the Cave," 16 Oct. 2018 In other words, Jason Wu executed a brilliant sneak peek of his collection at the hands of one of the most beloved figures in the world...right under our noses. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Debuted Jason Wu Dress from His SS19 Collection Before NYFW Show," 7 Sep. 2018 Experian will execute the application’s credit report while Checkr will provide a background check and eviction history. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Zillow’s new tools let you apply for apartments and pay rent," 31 July 2018 Ceausescu and his wife were executed by firing squad on Christmas Day 1989. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "5 World Leaders Whose Visits to the U.K. Sparked Controversy," 12 July 2018 No; she was executed, and then everything was back to bad-normal. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, "‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2 Is Brutal and Not Much Else," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'execute.' 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 execute

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

History and Etymology for execute

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

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Statistics for execute

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for execute

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

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More Definitions for execute



English Language Learners Definition of execute

: to kill (someone) especially as punishment for a crime

: to do (something that you have planned to do or been told to do)

: to do or perform (an action or movement that requires skill)


ex·​e·​cute | \ˈek-sə-ˌkyüt \
executed; executing

Kids Definition of execute

1 : to kill according to a legal order

2 : to put into effect : perform or carry out execute a plan

3 : to make according to a design The painting was executed in bright colors.


transitive verb
ex·​e·​cute | \ˈek-si-ˌkyüt \
executed; executing

Legal Definition of execute 

1 : perform: as

a : to carry out fully includes not only executed violence, but also threatened violenceLouisiana Civil Code

b : to do what is provided or required by execute a contract execute a search warrant

c : to deem (a use in property) to confer full seisin in a cestui que use by operation of the Statute of Uses

2 : 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

3 : to put to death in compliance with a judicial death sentence

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More from Merriam-Webster on execute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for execute

Spanish Central: Translation of execute

Nglish: Translation of execute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of execute for Arabic Speakers

Comments on execute

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by force of circumstances

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