mur·​der | \ ˈmər-dər How to pronounce murder (audio) \

Definition of murder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought was convicted of murder
2a : something very difficult or dangerous the traffic was murder carrying the luggage was murder on my back
b : something outrageous or blameworthy getting away with murder
3 : a flock of crows There's a reason the proper term for a flock of them is a murder of crows, and it's not because we like having them around.— Jeffrey Kluger


murdered; murdering\ ˈmər-​d(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce murdering (audio) \

Definition of murder (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to kill (a human being) unlawfully and with premeditated malice
2 : to slaughter wantonly : slay
3a : to put an end to
b : tease, torment
c : mutilate, mangle murders French
d : to defeat badly

intransitive verb

: to commit murder

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Synonyms & Antonyms for murder

Synonyms: Noun

agony, Gehenna, hell, horror, misery, nightmare, torment, torture

Synonyms: Verb

assassinate, bump off, croak [slang], dispatch, do in, execute, get, ice [slang], knock off, liquidate, neutralize, off [slang], put away, rub out, slay, snuff, take out, terminate, whack [slang]

Antonyms: Noun

heaven, paradise

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Choose the Right Synonym for murder


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 murder in a Sentence


She was accused of murder. the mass murder of civilians in wartime a string of unsolved murders Traffic is murder this time of day.


He was arrested and accused of murdering his wife. His wife was found murdered. a dictator who is responsible for murdering thousands of innocent people The band murdered that song.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Deliberations have continued since Wednesday, a day after the former Katy-area coach was found guilty of murder in the 1999 death of his pregnant wife, Belinda. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Jurors at deadlock in sentencing of David Temple," 9 Aug. 2019 Crusius has been charged with capital murder in the shooting and is being held without bond. Ed Lavandera, CNN, "El Paso shooting: Suspect claims distance from hometown helped him choose target, sources say," 9 Aug. 2019 Two gang members, Nicholas M. Kozorra and Dustin J. Clowers, previously pleaded guilty to murder in aid of racketeering. Madeline Mcgee, Anchorage Daily News, "Man accused of preparing room where gang member would be beaten pleads guilty to kidnapping," 8 Aug. 2019 She is charged with murder in the Monday shooting death of 21-year-old Brandon Rosario. Carol Robinson |, al, "20-year-old woman charged after found with murder victim’s vehicle in downtown Birmingham," 7 Aug. 2019 While police looked for them, McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with second-degree murder in Dyck’s death. Jeff Truesdell,, "Two Bodies Found in Search for Missing Teens Suspected of Killing N.C. Woman and Boyfriend," 7 Aug. 2019 McLeod and Schmegelsky, lifelong friends from Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, were charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of a Vancouver man, Leonard Dyck, 64. Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY, "Two bodies found near Canadian river believed to be teens suspected of 3 murders," 7 Aug. 2019 Armando Ricardo Navarro, 26, faces a charge of capital murder in the death of 42-year-old Arturo Negrete of Seagoville, police said. María Méndez, Dallas News, "Suspect in deadly stabbing at Richardson Kroger crashes stolen car in Dallas, police say," 6 Aug. 2019 Gaege Bethune was convicted of first-degree murder in June 2018 after a two-week jury trial. Tracy Swartz,, "‘Dateline’ revisits 2014 death of SIU student Pravin Varughese of Morton Grove," 6 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

BTK Killer) Beginning in 1974, Dennis Rader tortured and murdered 10 people across Wichita, Kan. Nick Romano,, "Mindhunter season 2: A true-crime companion guide to podcasts, books, and more," 10 Aug. 2019 Brown, now 31, was convicted for murdering a man who allegedly hired her as a teenage prostitute until being granted clemency in January. Tyler Kendall, CBS News, "Cyntoia Brown was 16 years old when she was sentenced to life in prison. Could her clemency give hope to other juvenile lifers?," 9 Aug. 2019 The shooter who murdered nine people, including his sister, in Dayton was killed by police officers on patrol after 30 seconds of mayhem. The Economist, "Politics this week," 8 Aug. 2019 The group eventually murders a number of people at the house of a man named Mitch, against whom Russell has a grudge because Mitch promised to give him a record contract, then didn’t follow through. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "How the Manson family became a pop culture trope," 8 Aug. 2019 The killing took place in October 2018, and a Richmond resident was later charged with murdering Carrillo. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Hero’s tragic turn: San Francisco utility worker who saved two lives imprisoned for gun possession," 8 Aug. 2019 Marty Brennaman had some tough stuff to say about US citizens murdering one another en masse. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc's Morning Line: 12 years later, how do we feel about Barry Bonds' home run legacy?," 7 Aug. 2019 Historians believe around 5,000 people of Mexican heritage were either murdered or disappeared in the American West. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "History’s Grim Duty: raceAhead," 7 Aug. 2019 No, the director doesn’t give her much of a life here, either, but the absence of her death — the Manson family members don’t murder Sharon and her house guests on that fateful night in the film — feels somewhat cathartic. Aisha Harris, New York Times, "Sharon Tate Is a Woman in a Tarantino Movie. It’s Complicated.," 7 Aug. 2019

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

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First Known Use of murder


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for murder

Noun and Verb

partly from Middle English murther, from Old English morthor; partly from Middle English murdre, from Anglo-French, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English morthor; akin to Old High German mord murder, Latin mort-, mors death, mori to die, mortuus dead, Greek brotos mortal

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Statistics for murder

Last Updated

12 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for murder

The first known use of murder was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for murder



English Language Learners Definition of murder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the crime of deliberately killing a person
informal : something that is very difficult or unpleasant



English Language Learners Definition of murder (Entry 2 of 2)

: to kill (a person) in a deliberate and unlawful way : to commit the murder of (someone)
: to spoil or ruin (something) : to perform (something) very badly
: to defeat (an opponent) very badly


mur·​der | \ ˈmər-dər How to pronounce murder (audio) \

Kids Definition of murder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the intentional and unlawful killing of a human being


murdered; murdering

Kids Definition of murder (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to kill (someone) intentionally and unlawfully
2 : to spoil or ruin by performing or using badly murder a song

Other Words from murder

murderer noun


mur·​der | \ ˈmər-dər How to pronounce murder (audio) \

Legal Definition of murder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the crime of unlawfully and unjustifiably killing another under circumstances defined by statute (as with premeditation) especially : such a crime committed purposely, knowingly, and recklessly with extreme indifference to human life or during the course of a serious felony (as robbery or rape) — compare cold blood, cooling time, homicide, manslaughter

Note: Self-defense, necessity, and lack of capacity for criminal responsibility (as because of insanity) are defenses to a charge of murder. Most state statutes and the U.S. Code divide murder into two degrees. Florida, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania currently have three degrees of murder. Some states do not assign degrees of murder.

depraved-heart murder \ di-​ˈprāvd-​ˈhärt-​ \
: a murder that is the result of an act which is dangerous to others and shows that the perpetrator has a depraved mind and no regard for human life

Note: Depraved-heart murder is usually considered second- or third-degree murder.

felony murder
: a murder that occurs in the commission of a serious felony (as burglary or sexual battery) — compare misdemeanor-manslaughter at manslaughter

Note: Felony murder is usually considered first-degree murder. Felony murder does not require specific intent to kill, and an accessory to the felony may also be charged with the murder.

first-degree murder
: a murder that is committed with premeditation or during the course of a serious felony (as kidnapping) or that otherwise (as because of extreme cruelty) requires the most serious punishment under the law
second-degree murder
: a murder that is committed without premeditation but with some intent (as general or transferred intent) or other circumstances not covered by the first-degree murder statute
third-degree murder
: a murder that is not first- or second-degree murder: as
a : a murder committed in the perpetration of a felony not listed in the first-degree murder statute
b : depraved-heart murder in this entry

Legal Definition of murder (Entry 2 of 2)

: to kill (a human being) unlawfully and under circumstances constituting murder

intransitive verb

: to commit murder

History and Etymology for murder


partly from Old English morthor; partly from Old French murdre, of Germanic origin

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More from Merriam-Webster on murder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with murder

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for murder

Spanish Central: Translation of murder

Nglish: Translation of murder for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on murder

What made you want to look up murder? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a haphazard or makeshift solution

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