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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for murder

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 That simple image — which foreshadowed the choreography of their remarks following the guilty verdict in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin — was a reminder of why diversity matters at the highest levels. Washington Post, "Biden’s small moments tell big stories," 26 Apr. 2021 The exact source of the audio wasn’t clear, but a live reading of the guilty verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who killed Floyd, is heard streaming through the cruiser. Farnoush Amiri And Andrew Welsh-huggins,, "Recordings show chaos surrounding fatal police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant," 24 Apr. 2021 Hundreds gathered at George Floyd's mural in downtown Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, following the guilty verdict on all three counts in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, "‘A turning point in America’: Hundreds march to George Floyd mural in SLC," 21 Apr. 2021 The verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial seemed to reopen the partisan split over race and justice in America for Arizona’s congressional delegation. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, "1 verdict, 2 views: Democrats, Republicans have different take on what Derek Chauvin trial means," 21 Apr. 2021 The most serious charge against Mr. Chauvin is second-degree unintentional murder. Jacob Gershman, WSJ, "Derek Chauvin Verdict Live: Jury Reaches Verdict," 20 Apr. 2021 But the Emerald Triangle is, of course, pot country too, and the starting point of Sasquatch is a murder of three cannabis farm workers in 1993—men who were torn limb from limb by someone or something in the woods. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Sasquatch Is an Unsettling Documentary About the Darkest Side of the Golden State," 20 Apr. 2021 Today, the jury in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial honored that truth. Tim Darnell, ajc, "President, vice president react to Chauvin verdict," 20 Apr. 2021 The shooting happened as the nation was awaiting the guilty verdict reached by the jury in the murder trial of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin in the May 2020 death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. al, "Columbus, Ohio police kill 16-year-old girl who called 911 as Derek Chauvin verdict neared, family says," 20 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In 2015, Baltimore’s top prosecutor charged six police officers with felonies ranging from assault to murder in the death of Freddie Gray, who’d suffered a spinal injury while riding in a police van., "Today in History," 1 May 2021 Last year Russia’s security services slipped him a nerve agent in a botched attempt to murder him. The Economist, "The world must not accept the jailing of Alexei Navalny," 23 Jan. 2021 Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin's leading critics, was airlifted to Germany for treatment in August after collapsing on a plane in what Germany and other Western nations say was an attempt to murder him with a Novichok nerve agent. NBC News, "Russia gives Kremlin critic Navalny an ultimatum: Return immediately or face jail," 29 Dec. 2020 Breathe because Floyd’s resistance—the lame fallback too often used to justify shooting someone who may fear for their life—was not enough to murder him. Roy S. Johnson |, al, "We breathed again, again, and again. Like George Floyd could not.," 20 Apr. 2021 The women found allies, though too few, among sympathetic Poles and even Germans, including a Nazi soldier unwilling to murder children in cold blood., "Brave women fighting Nazis in ‘The Light of Days’," 15 Apr. 2021 Efren Saldivar is such a slayer, abusing his position as a respiratory therapist to murder many under his care. Vulture Editors, Vulture, "This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Hunting the Butcher," 9 Apr. 2021 In this case, investigators said Godfrey was hired to murder a specific target, but do not specify who. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, "'Reign of terror': Police offer insights into killing spree," 8 Apr. 2021 Naturally, Guy, as the estranged husband, is the police’s prime suspect; Bruno exploits this predicament in his concerted efforts to force Guy’s hand to murder his father in exchange. New York Times, "Do Patricia Highsmith Novels Make Good Films?," 8 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about murder

Time Traveler for murder

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for murder

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Murder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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