mu·​ti·​late | \ ˈmyü-tə-ˌlāt How to pronounce mutilate (audio) \
mutilated; mutilating

Definition of mutilate

transitive verb

1 : to cut up or alter radically so as to make imperfect the child mutilated the book with his scissors a painting mutilated by vandals
2 : to cut off or permanently destroy a limb or essential part of : cripple His arm was mutilated in the accident.

Other Words from mutilate

mutilator \ ˈmyü-​tə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce mutilate (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for mutilate

maim, cripple, mutilate, batter, mangle mean to injure so severely as to cause lasting damage. maim implies the loss or injury of a bodily member through violence. maimed by a shark cripple implies the loss or serious impairment of an arm or leg. crippled for life in an accident mutilate implies the cutting off or removal of an essential part of a person or thing thereby impairing its completeness, beauty, or function. a tree mutilated by inept pruning batter implies a series of blows that bruise deeply, deform, or mutilate. an old ship battered by fierce storms mangle implies a tearing or crushing that leaves deep wounds. a soldier's leg mangled by shrapnel

Examples of mutilate in a Sentence

a painting mutilated by vandals was lucky not to be mutilated in the car crash
Recent Examples on the Web An escaped asylum patient in a white mask stalks a quiet, unsuspecting suburb prowling for teenagers to mutilate. Gem Seddon, Vulture, 29 Oct. 2021 The director, Italian filmmaker Romano Scavolini, molds what little there is of a plot around a murderer who is subjected to a medical procedure that seemingly increases his desire to mutilate and kill. Gem Seddon, Vulture, 29 Oct. 2021 The saloon owner would romance the women and then kill them and mutilate their bodies, a 1981 story in the San Antonio Light said. Taylor Pettaway, San Antonio Express-News, 27 Sep. 2021 Baugh, according to the report, did not alter or mutilate official records or documents because county employees created a new pool. Paul P. Murphy, CNN, 29 June 2021 Even if the laws are circumvented, this gambit would mutilate constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Steve Chapman,, 13 Nov. 2020 Pictures of Escamilla’s mutilated body were leaked and widely circulated, causing outrage on social media. Lorena Rios,, 11 Feb. 2020 Hundreds of thousands of ordinary servicemen, and some women, were killed or mutilated at the Somme and Ypres; because they were recruited together, entire villages, households, and families were decimated in a single day. Charlotte Mendelson, The New Yorker, 2 Aug. 2019 Till, a black 14-year-old, was murdered and mutilated by white men in Mississippi in 1955 after having been falsely accused of flirting with a white woman. Steven Litt, cleveland, 24 Nov. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of mutilate

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mutilate

Latin mutilatus, past participle of mutilare, from mutilus truncated, maimed

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The first known use of mutilate was in 1534

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Cite this Entry

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

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More Definitions for mutilate


mu·​ti·​late | \ ˈmyü-tə-ˌlāt How to pronounce mutilate (audio) \
mutilated; mutilating

Kids Definition of mutilate

1 : to destroy or cut off a necessary part (as a limb) : maim
2 : to ruin by damaging or changing He mutilated the book with a scissors. The actors mutilated the play.


transitive verb
mu·​ti·​late | \ ˈmyüt-ᵊl-ˌāt How to pronounce mutilate (audio) \
mutilated; mutilating

Medical Definition of mutilate

: to cut off or permanently destroy a limb or essential part of mutilate a body also : castrate sense 1

More from Merriam-Webster on mutilate

Nglish: Translation of mutilate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mutilate for Arabic Speakers


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