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killed; killing; kills

transitive verb

: to deprive of life : cause the death of
a disease that has killed thousands
He threatened to kill them.
: to slaughter (an animal) for food
: to convert a food animal into (a kind of meat) by slaughtering
: to put an end to
kill competition
a change that could kill our chances for success
: defeat, veto
killed the amendment
: to mark for omission
also : delete
kill a quote
: annihilate, destroy
kill an enemy
: to destroy the vital or essential quality of
killed the pain with drugs
: to cause to stop
kill the motor
: to check the flow of current through
kill the lights
: to make a markedly favorable impression on
she killed the audience
: to get through uneventfully
kill time
also : to get through (the time of a penalty) without being scored on
kill a penalty
: to cause extreme pain to
My back is killing me.
: to tire almost to the point of collapse
has been killing herself to get the project done on time
: to hit (a shot) so hard in various games that a return is impossible
killed a backhand down the line
: 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

: 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
: to make a markedly favorable impression
was dressed to kill
killable adjective


2 of 3

noun (1)

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


3 of 3

noun (2)

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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Until 2017, more than 100 passengers were killed every year. Sameer Yasir,, 3 June 2023 In a speech last June marking the opening of army bases to the commission’s investigation, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval sparked outrage by stating that soldiers killed during the counterinsurgency campaign would be honored, too. Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 3 June 2023 In August 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358 people in one of the worst train accidents in India’s history. Ashok Sharma, Anchorage Daily News, 3 June 2023 The Israeli Defense Force said that three soldiers were killed in two incidents inside Israel's borders. Paul Goldman, NBC News, 3 June 2023 Investigators were convinced Nasyrova had intended to kill Tsvyk in order to assume her identity. Morgan Canty, CBS News, 2 June 2023 In August 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358 people in the worst train accident in India's history. Ashok Sharma, USA TODAY, 2 June 2023 This class strife, pitting recently acquired Marxist ideas against the moral hypocrises of privilege (a priest is seen accepting bribes from rich congregants, then blessing weapons that will kill their field toilers), is familiar from numerous prior Italian historical dramas. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 2 June 2023 Freeman, who previously served on the City-County Council, has called the idea stupid, said its part of a Democratic war on cars, and that more enforcement and personal responsibility was the way to address pedestrians being killed or hurt in crashes, not a blanket ban. The Indianapolis Star, 2 June 2023
The Crusaders had 16 errors to 19 kills through two sets but also struggled with serving after accumulating seven service errors in two sets. Alex Harrison, The Enquirer, 28 May 2023 American handlers had moved quickly to evacuate their flock from Afghanistan after the Taliban released an order in January for local officials to assemble kill lists of all former Afghan military and government personnel. Beth Bailey, Fox News, 14 May 2023 The Oilers' power play is clicking at a 56.3% rate while the Golden Knights penalty kill is worst among remaining teams at 58.3%. Jace Evans, USA TODAY, 2 May 2023 Finn Bell and Joe Kelly, Wayland — The duo each notched 19 kills in a Dual County League battle that went five sets and ended with a win over Lincoln-Sudbury. Aj Traub,, 29 Apr. 2023 Meanwhile, Greg has yet to snag a hottie but did pick up useful intel: there is a kill list of eight or nine names who will be cut when the deal goes through. Erica Gonzales, ELLE, 25 Apr. 2023 Lincoln-Way East 13-3 (2) Sam Yacobozzi gets eight kills in 25-22, 19-25, 25-20 win over Wheaton Warrenville South. 4. Jeff Vorva, Chicago Tribune, 25 Apr. 2023 Vernita and others on Beatrix’s kill list, like O-Ren Ishii, Budd, and even Bill, become somewhat sympathetic right before their deaths. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 12 Apr. 2023 Throw in a new venue and the same old thrills and kills, and Paramount should be slashing all the way to the bank. Brian Lowry, CNN, 8 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near kill

Cite this Entry

“Kill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to deprive of life : cause the death of
: to put an end to : ruin
that killed our chances
: defeat entry 1 sense 1
the committee killed the bill
: to stop the use or functioning of
kill the lights
: delete
kill the last line
: to cause to pass
just killing time
: to use up completely
killed two cartons of milk


2 of 2 noun
: an act of killing
: an animal killed
a lion devouring its kill

More from Merriam-Webster on kill

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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