ex·​e·​cu·​tion | \ˌek-si-ˈkyü-shən \

Definition of execution 

1 : the act or process of executing : performance

2 : a putting to death especially as a legal penalty

3 : the process of enforcing a legal judgment (as against a debtor) also : a judicial writ directing such enforcement

4 : the act or mode or result of performance

5 archaic : effective or destructive action his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution— William Shakespeare usually used with do as soon as day came, we went out to see what execution we had done— Daniel Defoe

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Examples of execution in a Sentence

He is in prison awaiting execution. The quarterback's execution of the play was perfect. skillful execution of the dance steps
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Recent Examples on the Web

Spotless execution could forgive some of these appropriations, but that was lacking across my multiple visits timed about a month apart. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Restaurant Review: Detroit's Empire Kitchen & Cocktails has no clothes," 12 July 2018 Human Rights Watch has warned of the risk of executions by the Syrian government in Eastern Ghouta and other areas that come under its control. Raja Abdulrahim, WSJ, "Syria’s Former Rebel Strongholds Endure as Assad Regime Reasserts Control," 12 July 2018 The previous challenge filed last year by a different company in Arkansas was unsuccessful in halting that execution. NBC News, "Nevada execution in doubt after drug company sues to stop it," 11 July 2018 Season 2 of this dystopian drama comes to a close following last episode’s public execution. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "What’s on TV Wednesday: The World Cup Semifinals and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’," 11 July 2018 By the same logic, dosing prisoners with paralytics can also make executions less traumatic for witnesses. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "The Untested Drugs at the Heart of Nevada's Execution Controversy," 11 July 2018 Still, the pressure is rising for executions to be carried out even more rapidly, including from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Hamza Hendawi, Fox News, "A neighbor's word can bring death sentence in Iraq IS trials," 9 July 2018 Save for the eventuality of injury, the plan is to have him stay down for an extended period to work on consistent execution of pitches that, due to their velocity, have little margin for error. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres notes: Walks this way (like Myers); Diaz shows command," 9 July 2018 Sponsor is not responsible for any typographical or other error in the printing or advertising of the offer, administration or execution of the Sweepstakes or in the announcements of the prize/prize winner. Hartford Courant, courant.com, "Official Sweepstakes Rules," 5 July 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for execution

Middle English execucion, from Anglo-French, from Latin exsecution-, exsecutio, from exsequi to execute, from ex- + sequi to follow — more at sue

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Statistics for execution

Last Updated

2 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for execution

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

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More Definitions for execution



English Language Learners Definition of execution

: the act of killing someone especially as punishment for a crime

: the act of doing or performing something


ex·​e·​cu·​tion | \ˌek-sə-ˈkyü-shən \

Kids Definition of execution

1 : the act of killing someone as a legal penalty

2 : the act of doing or performing something execution of a plan


ex·​e·​cu·​tion | \ˌek-si-ˈkyü-shən \

Legal Definition of execution 

1 : the act or process of executing witnessed the execution of the will

2 : a putting to death as fulfillment of a judicial death sentence

3 : the process of enforcing a judgment (as against a debtor) also : a judicial writ (as fieri facias) by which an officer is empowered to carry a judgment into effect — see also levy

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Comments on execution

What made you want to look up execution? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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