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

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 social-media guillotine is the humane, scientific tool of the woke. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 1 Apr. 2021 Anecdotes of such a connection are also visible throughout history: according to legend, the hair of Marie Antoinette, the 18th-century queen of France, turned white overnight just before her execution at the guillotine. Diana Kwon, Scientific American, 22 June 2021 There are several different types of pet nail trimmers available and include models such as: plier, scissor, guillotine and nail grinder styles for pet nails of different sizes., 20 June 2021 But the threat of the virus, which hung over last season like a guillotine, has eased considerably as more people are vaccinated., 16 May 2021 That course has one hole on which balls must sail beneath a guillotine that drops every one-and-a-half seconds, and another shaped like a upward sloping horseshoe, requiring golfers to hit the ball hard to give it the velocity to loop around. Deborah Martin, San Antonio Express-News, 14 May 2021 Marie Antoinette doused herself in her favorite perfume before she was ushered to the guillotine. Beatriz Zimmermann, Town & Country, 27 Apr. 2021 The debate over building a guillotine or gallows ultimately got resolved in favor of a gallows, which commenters estimated could be built for as little as $200 in supplies. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2021 On the first page we are introduced to the vivacious Olympe de Gouges, who was brought to the Paris guillotine in November 1793. Washington Post, 5 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for guillotine

Time Traveler

The first known use of guillotine was in 1790

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Statistics for guillotine

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Guillotine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce guillotine (audio) \

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 How to pronounce guillotine (audio) , ˈgē-ə-ˌtēn How to pronounce guillotine (audio) \

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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