guil·​lo·​tine | \ˈgi-lə-ˌtēn; ˌgē-(y)ə-ˈtēn, ˈgē-(y)ə-ˌtēn \

Definition of guillotine 

1 : a machine for beheading by means of a heavy blade that slides down in vertical guides

2 : a shearing machine or instrument (such as a paper cutter) that in action resembles a guillotine The paper was trimmed on a guillotine.

3 chiefly British : closure by the imposition of a predetermined time limit on the consideration of specific sections of a bill or portions of other legislative business

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Other Words from guillotine

guillotine transitive verb

Examples of guillotine in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The photos, posted by people who lament the death of Chicago’s tangible past, flit through my social media feed like a parade of the condemned en route to the guillotine. Mary Schmich,, "Awful! Sad! No More! Stop demolishing Chicago's beautiful old homes," 12 July 2018 Pettis looks for the finish with a guillotine choke but doesn’t get it. Todd Martin,, "Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis live round-by-round coverage," 8 July 2018 The local media, like a group of Madame DeFarges knitting at the guillotine, have publicly trashed Ms. Morgan since the beginning of the case. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Feds: Widow of UAW boss is 'trying to buy her way out of prison'," 7 July 2018 Maine is shaped like a guillotine blade, pitched a few degrees toward the ocean. Porter Fox, New York Times, "On a Canoe Trip Along the U.S.-Canada Border, Solitude and Shooting Stars," 20 June 2018 Jackson hurts Punk with a punch but Punk looks for a standing guillotine. Todd Martin,, "CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson live round-by-round coverage," 10 June 2018 From above, a worker released the metal door, which dropped like a guillotine. Jason Florio, Smithsonian, "The Dangerous Work of Relocating 5,000-Pound Rhinos," 22 May 2018 In 1794, Antoine Lavoisier (lah-vwahz-YAY'), the father of modern chemistry, was executed on the guillotine during France's Reign of Terror. azcentral, "AZ Memo: Taylor Swift kicks off 'Reputation' tour tonight in Glendale; charter schools' financial red flags; needle exchange bill dies," 8 May 2018 In 1794, Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, was executed on the guillotine during France’s Reign of Terror., "This day in history," 7 May 2018

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

1790, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for guillotine

French, from Joseph Guillotin †1814 French physician

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The first known use of guillotine was in 1790

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More Definitions for guillotine



English Language Learners Definition of guillotine

: a machine with a heavy blade that was used in the past to cut off the heads of people who had been sentenced to death


guil·​lo·​tine | \ˈgi-lə-ˌtēn \

Kids Definition of guillotine

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a machine for cutting off a person's head with a heavy blade that slides down two grooved posts


guillotined; guillotining

Kids Definition of guillotine (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cut off a person's head with a guillotine


guil·​lo·​tine | \ˈgil-ə-ˌtēn, ˈgē-ə-ˌtēn \

Medical Definition of guillotine 

: a surgical instrument that consists of a ring and handle with a knife blade which slides down the handle and across the ring and that is used for cutting out a protruding structure (as a tonsil) capable of being placed in the ring

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Comments on guillotine

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


playful or foolish behavior

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