kill·​ing | \ ˈki-liŋ How to pronounce killing (audio) \

Definition of killing

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act of one that kills
3 : a sudden notable gain or profit made a killing in the stock market



Definition of killing (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : that kills or relates to killing
2 : highly amusing
3 : extremely difficult to deal with the suspense is killing also : calling for great strength, stamina, or endurance a killing schedule

Other Words from killing


killingly \ ˈki-​liŋ-​lē How to pronounce killing (audio) \ adverb

Examples of killing in a Sentence

Noun The oil spill is responsible for the killing of thousands of birds. Adjective he's usually quiet, but occasionally unleashes some killing remark that cracks everyone up a killing schedule that requires the touring company to play in a different city every night
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The killing was one of two over the weekend in Birmingham. Carol Robinson |, al, 25 Apr. 2022 Henry Douglas Horsley, Curtis, and other family members all believe Craig’s killing was unjustified, yet their story has largely gone unheard. Cheyenne Roundtree, Rolling Stone, 24 Apr. 2022 An inmate told an investigator with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, or MDOC, that the killing was gang related. Jerry Mitchell, ProPublica, 21 Apr. 2022 The state attorney general ruled the killing was justified. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2022 The footage went viral on Weibo, with many noting that the killing was cruel and unnecessary. Andrew Marquardt, Fortune, 11 Apr. 2022 The killing is offscreen, but the footage of people being rounded up for execution and the testimony from war-crime tribunals years later are shocking and compelling. David Sims, The Atlantic, 8 Apr. 2022 The killing of his friend Brandon was only one of many in his life. Richard Mertens, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Mar. 2022 The deliberate killing of civilians may be a way to win, but armies fighting justly are required to look for other ways (there are other ways). Michael Walzer, WSJ, 25 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The anti-trapping, anti-killing anything movement has also taken a toll. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, 8 Jan. 2022 For the few pests that do show up, first spray with non-killing repellents such as garlic and garlic pepper tea. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, 26 July 2021 And Morgan put an end to his non-killing ways by chopping off the head of his bounty-hunting pursuer — stealing his axe and hat in the process. Dalton Ross,, 12 Oct. 2020 The killing spree began in the cottage community of Portapique where Mr. Wortman owned several properties. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2020 The problem at hand is the novel coronavirus, and U.S. sanctions are aiding its killing spree in Iran. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, 18 Mar. 2020 In 2014, his daughter, Alex, was at the University of California, Santa Barbara when a gunman on a killing spree fatally shot three women outside her sorority house. James Barragán, Dallas News, 21 Feb. 2020 Keenan was the New York Police Department’s Chief of Detectives during the killing spree, which terrified the city in 1976 and 1977 as an unknown gunman stalked his victims with a .44 caliber handgun, killing six and wounding seven others. Michael R. Sisak, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Sep. 2019 Police reports, witness statements and dispatch logs shared earlier have provided more detail about the confusion and heroism as the concert venue became a killing field. Ken Ritter, Fox News, 13 June 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'killing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of killing


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About killing

Time Traveler for killing

Time Traveler

The first known use of killing was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near killing



killing bottle

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for killing

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Killing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on killing

Nglish: Translation of killing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of killing for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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