mu·​ti·​late | \ ˈmyü-tə-ˌlāt \
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.

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Other Words from mutilate

mutilation \ ˌmyü-​tə-​ˈlā-​shən \ noun
mutilator \ ˈmyü-​tə-​ˌlā-​tər \ 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

Coggins’ mutilated body was found near Gebhardt’s residence in the city of Sunny Side, which had about 330 residents then and only 134 now. Christian Boone, ajc, "Race takes center stage on Day One of Spalding cold case murder trial," 21 June 2018 Investigators confirmed that the body had been mutilated and set on fire. Max Cohen,, "Dismembered and burned body found in rural South Jersey field was that of Vineland woman, 32," 5 July 2018 The agents watch teenagers self-mutilating and girls recounting rape. Katrin Bennhold, New York Times, "Germany Acts to Tame Facebook, Learning From Its Own History of Hate," 19 May 2018 Included in the definition of criminal trespass is the defacing, mutilating or defiling any grave marker, monument, or memorial to one or more deceased persons who served in the military service. Fox News, "Video from 2011 creates headaches for Sinema," 12 Oct. 2018 The sign marking the place where 14-year-old Emmett’s mutilated body was found has been shot at — again. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "Someone Shot the Sign Marking the Spot Emmett Till's Body Was Found — Again," 6 Aug. 2018 Anderson has clear evidence that Maitland raped and mutilated a child. New York Times, "Stephen King’s Reign of Terror Continues in a New Novel," 22 May 2018 Sponsor is not responsible for lost, late, mutilated, misdirected, incomplete, inaccurate or postage due entries. House Beautiful, "Official Rules for America's Ultimate Strawberry Jam Contest," 28 June 2012 Emmett Till’s mutilated body would be on display for all to see. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, "Emmett Till’s mother opened his casket and sparked the civil rights movement," 12 July 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for mutilate

Last Updated

22 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for mutilate

The first known use of mutilate was in 1534

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More Definitions for mutilate



English Language Learners Definition of mutilate

: to cause severe damage to (the body of a person or animal)

: to ruin the beauty of (something) : to severely damage or spoil (something)


mu·​ti·​late | \ ˈmyü-tə-ˌlāt \
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 \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on mutilate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mutilate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mutilate

Spanish Central: Translation of mutilate

Nglish: Translation of mutilate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mutilate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on mutilate

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a complex dispute or argument

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