\ ˈkil How to pronounce kill (audio) \
killed; killing; kills

Definition of kill

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to deprive of life : cause the death of a disease that has killed thousands He threatened to kill them.
b(1) : to slaughter (an animal) for food
(2) : to convert a food animal into (a kind of meat) by slaughtering
2a : to put an end to kill competition a change that could kill our chances for success
b : defeat, veto killed the amendment
c : to mark for omission also : delete kill a quote
d : annihilate, destroy kill an enemy
3a : to destroy the vital or essential quality of killed the pain with drugs
b : to cause to stop kill the motor
c : to check the flow of current through kill the lights
4 : to make a markedly favorable impression on she killed the audience
5 : to get through uneventfully kill time also : to get through (the time of a penalty) without being scored on kill a penalty
6a : to cause extreme pain to My back is killing me.
b : to tire almost to the point of collapse has been killing herself to get the project done on time
7 : to hit (a shot) so hard in various games that a return is impossible killed a backhand down the line
8 : to consume (something, such as a drink) totally killed his drink and held out the glass.— W. L. Gresham killed two bottles of wine over dinner

intransitive verb

1 : to cause the death of a person, animal, or plant a murderer who may kill again an herbicide that kills on contact if looks could kill
2 : to make a markedly favorable impression was dressed to kill


noun (1)

Definition of kill (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : an act or instance of killing an animal moving in for the kill
b : a decisive act that conclusively secures something (such as a deal or win)
2 : something killed: such as
a(1) : an animal shot in a hunt
(2) : animals killed in a hunt, season, or particular period of time
b : an enemy unit (such as an airplane or ship) destroyed by military action
c : a return shot in any of various games (such as badminton, handball, or table tennis) that is too hard for an opponent to handle


noun (2), often capitalized

Definition of kill (Entry 3 of 3)

: channel, creek used chiefly in place names in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York

Other Words from kill


killable \ ˈki-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce kill (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for kill

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for kill


kill, slay, murder, assassinate, dispatch, execute mean to deprive of life. kill merely states the fact of death caused by an agency in any manner. killed in an accident frost killed the plants slay is a chiefly literary term implying deliberateness and violence but not necessarily motive. slew thousands of the Philistines murder specifically implies stealth and motive and premeditation and therefore full moral responsibility. convicted of murdering a rival assassinate applies to deliberate killing openly or secretly often for political motives. terrorists assassinated the Senator dispatch stresses quickness and directness in putting to death. dispatched the sentry with one bullet execute stresses putting to death as a legal penalty. executed by lethal gas

Examples of kill in a Sentence

Verb The disease has killed thousands of people. Three people were killed in the accident. a chemical that kills weeds a disease that can kill taking drugs to kill the pain Despite protests, the mayor killed the program. The committee killed the bill. This delay has killed our chances of finishing the project on schedule. She told him to kill the lights.
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First Known Use of kill


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun (1)

1814, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1669, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kill

Verb and Noun (1)

Middle English, perhaps from Old English *cyllan; akin to Old English cwellan to kill — more at quell

Noun (2)

Dutch kil

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Time Traveler for kill

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Kill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for kill



English Language Learners Definition of kill

: to cause the death of (a person, animal, or plant) : to end the life of (someone or something)
: to cause the end of (something)
: to turn (something) off with a switch


\ ˈkil How to pronounce kill (audio) \
killed; killing

Kids Definition of kill

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to end the life of : slay … she still thought cold weather could kill you in a flash.— Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
2 : to put an end to Aspirin will kill this headache.
3 : to use up We still have time to kill.
4 : defeat entry 1 sense 2 Senators may kill a proposed law.
5 : to cause to become very tired These long hours are killing me.



Kids Definition of kill (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of taking the life of a person or animal The tiger moved in for the kill.
2 : an animal whose life has been taken A lion is devouring its kill.

Choose the Right Synonym for kill


kill, murder, and assassinate mean to take the life of. kill doesn't specify the manner of death and can apply to the death of anything. An early frost killed the crops. There was a person killed in the accident. murder is used for the deliberate and unlawful killing of a person. He was arrested for murdering a rival. assassinate is usually used for the murder of an important person often for political reasons. There was a secret plan to assassinate the candidate.

More from Merriam-Webster on kill

Nglish: Translation of kill for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of kill for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about kill


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