im·​pale im-ˈpāl How to pronounce impale (audio)
impaled; impaling

transitive verb

: to pierce with or as if with something pointed
especially : to torture or kill by fixing on a sharp stake
: to fix in an inescapable or helpless position
: to join (coats of arms) on a heraldic shield divided vertically by a pale
impalement noun
impaler noun

Examples of impale in a Sentence

impale a marshmallow or two on that stick and let's start toasting
Recent Examples on the Web Instead, it was kept on hand for extreme emergencies — such as a White House fence jumper impaling themselves on a spike. Michael Kranish, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 The latter leads Alice to impale her hand on a rusty nail from a fence. Eric Andersson, Peoplemag, 16 Nov. 2023 The probe of two large python farms in Thailand took place from February through November of last year, with undercover workers shooting graphic and disturbing video of pythons continuing to move about while having their heads bashed with hammers and impaled with metal hooks. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 12 Mar. 2024 And if their incisors grow too long, the animals can fatally impale their lower jaw, the NWF said. USA TODAY, 1 Feb. 2024 In Europe, people deployed spoons for soup and knives for cutting and impaling, but otherwise continued to rely on their hands. Ligaya Mishan Kyoko Hamada, New York Times, 18 Feb. 2024 And as Marie screams out in pain, the blood from her mother's neck blasts out in all directions, impaling her father and killing him as well. Alex Raiman,, 29 Sep. 2023 There are a number of misadventures, including times that Smith was impaled by hooks, the angler who turned Smith’s one-piece fly rod into a five-piece rod, running a boat to the Virgin Islands in tropical weather systems and returning to Florida from the Bahamas in 20-foot waves. Steve Waters, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 Doc and Cameron reach the firefighters and find an uninjured Kaia sitting with her coworker Jay, whose leg is impaled on a large chunk of tree. Sara Netzley,, 7 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'impale.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French empaler, from Medieval Latin impalare, from Latin in- + palus stake — more at pole

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of impale was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near impale

Cite this Entry

“Impale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


im·​pale im-ˈpā(ə)l How to pronounce impale (audio)
impaled; impaling
: to pierce with or as if with something pointed
impalement noun
impaler noun

More from Merriam-Webster on impale

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!