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 murder (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

Synonyms & Antonyms for murder

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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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

Noun She was accused of murder. the mass murder of civilians in wartime a string of unsolved murders Traffic is murder this time of day. Verb 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Nelson, who at 2-years-old witnessed her mother's brutal murder, brought with her to the state Capitol her 4-week-old daughter, who bears the same middle name as her grandmother. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 13 May 2022 An assistant public defender for two decades, McNeill has represented 17 murder suspects at trial, including in two death penalty cases. Terry Spencer, Sun Sentinel, 13 May 2022 Wallace was finally apprehended in 1994, just days after Henderson's murder. Kyler Alvord,, 13 May 2022 The Hamilton Police Department has obtained three murder warrants in connection to a fatal stabbing at a Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Hamilton on Saturday. Brook Endale, The Enquirer, 13 May 2022 For more than three decades the gruesome murder remained unsolved. Globe Staff,, 13 May 2022 Though the 2010 search for Gilbert led police to discover the Gilgo Beach murder victims, Suffolk County police said Friday that the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit concluded that Gilbert’s death isn't consistent with homicide. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 13 May 2022 Under Iowa law, juveniles 16 and older are automatically prosecuted in adult court if charged with forcible felony crimes, such as first-degree murder. Marlene Lenthang, NBC News, 13 May 2022 One suspect charged in connection with an Oklahoma love triangle murder has pleaded guilty to the brutal killing of a woman while the other is preparing to stand trial. Fox News, 13 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Still, the crime was sensational enough to warrant speculation as to whether or not Montgomery really did murder her friend. Milan Polk, Men's Health, 12 May 2022 From supernatural societies at Yale to murder at Cambridge to mysterious bookstores, there's something for everyone here. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 23 Apr. 2022 There's something obtuse about someone taking a savage glee in watching psychotics brutally murder dozens of people on T.V. Anthony Venditti, CBS News, 21 Apr. 2022 The film, which debuts April 22, stars Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth, a hulking Viking prince who stops at nothing to avenge the killing of his father (Ethan Hawke), save his mother (Nicole Kidman) and murder his family’s betrayer. NBC News, 20 Apr. 2022 An army soldier was sentenced on Friday to serve 60 months in prison for possession of child pornography and threatening to assault or murder a federal employee. Jane Florance, The Arizona Republic, 11 Apr. 2022 During the SAG Awards, which took place last month, Gaga opened up about playing Maurizio Gucci's ex-wife, Patrizia, who was convicted of hiring a hitman to murder him. Greta Bjornson,, 13 Mar. 2022 Audubon wrote loathingly of eagles and did not miss an opportunity to murder them. Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic, 15 Feb. 2022 Evict Jews from their homes, transport them to concentration camps, work them to death or murder them outright, then burn the bodies. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, 30 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for murder

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

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Statistics for murder

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Murder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for murder


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


transitive verb

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

More from Merriam-Webster on murder

Nglish: Translation of murder for Spanish Speakers

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


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