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
Recent Examples of guillotine from the Web
But, while the French Revolution may call to mind scenes of terror and guillotines, the first anniversary of the 1789 events at the Bastille was marked by revolutionaries, clergy and royals celebrating side by side.
Douglas Silva de Andrade via sub (guillotine) (R2, 4:36) Fox Sports Prelims Oleksiy Oliynyk def.
Font lands another knee late and goes for a guillotine choke at the close.
A few years after the blood drained out of the French Revolution, many of its most fierce-eyed followers slinked away and feigned ignorance about cheering as the guillotine blade grew dull by overuse.
One bagel guillotine per family is usually sufficient.
There are a couple of nifty Rube Goldbergian action sequences — one with a bank vault, the other with a guillotine — that recall the berserk inventiveness of Gore Verbinski, the original director.
Romanian writer/director Cristian Mungiu makes chilly, thought-provoking films about families, politics and crime where everyone is guilty to some extent, and the guillotine about to fall is controlled more by fate than justice.
GLASGOW, Scotland — A candidate for Glasgow City Council said the death penalty should be brought back, floating the use of the guillotine instead of hanging.
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.
Origin and Etymology of guillotine
French, from Joseph Guillotin †1814 French physician
First Known Use: 1790See Words from the same year
GUILLOTINE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of guillotine for English Language Learners
: 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
GUILLOTINE Defined for Kids
Definition of guillotine for Students
: a machine for cutting off a person's head with a heavy blade that slides down two grooved posts
Definition of guillotine for Students
: to cut off a person's head with a guillotine
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
Biographical Note for guillotine
Guillotin \gē-yȯ-taⁿ\play ,
Joseph–Ignace (1738–1814), French surgeon. Guillotin was a member of the National Assembly during the time of the French Revolution. In 1789 he proposed the passage of a law requiring that all death sentences be carried out by decapitation, a practice up to that time reserved for the nobility. At the time decapitation was perceived to be a humane method of execution, and its uniform application was intended as a statement of egalitarian ideals. Various decapitation devices had been in use for centuries, but an improvement was commissioned, and subsequently introduced in 1792. Gradually the device became known as the guillotine as it became associated with the man who had advocated it as a humane instrument of capital punishment. The surgical instrument known as the guillotine is so called because it features a similar sliding-blade action.
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