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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


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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


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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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Little bit disheveled, but with an act that still kills. Charles E. Kraus, New York Daily News, 1 July 2024 In just the past week or so, catastrophic flooding deluged the Midwest, the military attempted a coup in Bolivia, an Arkansas man shot and killed four people in a grocery store, and wildfires went on ravaging the Arctic Circle. Cory Leadbeater, The Atlantic, 1 July 2024
Read Next National ‘Oppressive’ child labor found at poultry plant’s kill floor after teen’s death, feds say May 20, 2024 1:04 PM Read Next California Popeyes overworked 13-year-olds with long, late shifts, feds say. Julia Marnin, Miami Herald, 27 June 2024 People have sent at least 500 eyewitness reports of abnormal behavior and fish kills to state wildlife hotlines, according to the latest Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data. Max Chesnes, Orlando Sentinel, 26 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for kill 

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 15 Jul. 2024.

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

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