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

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 But perhaps most chilling, like Barbara's, Claire's breast had also been mutilated. CBS News, "Were the murders of California teens the work of a serial killer?," 9 June 2018 According to India’s Kalinga TV station, the victim’s mutilated body was rescued from the bear after forest officials reached the spot and tranquilized the animal after the Wednesday evening incident. Matthew Diebel, USA TODAY, "Bear mauls to death man who tried to take a selfie with the injured animal," 7 May 2018 Last year the bodies of more than 20 women, many strangled and mutilated, were found after being dumped in two neighbourhoods close to the Ugandan capital. The Economist, "Uganda’s politicised police force is not reducing crime," 5 July 2018 The suspect reportedly altered or otherwise mutilated his fingerprints to avoid being identified, but was identified anyway using facial-recognition software. Staff Reports,, "Annapolis shooting at Capital Gazette newspaper leaves 5 dead," 28 June 2018 Investigators said the body had been mutilated and set on fire. Max Cohen,, "$1,000 reward offered for clues in death of South Jersey woman who was dismembered and burned," 11 July 2018 After they had each been shot in the head, Martine Bernard’s body was mutilated and the body of her father, Roosevelt Bernard, 68, was set on fire, according to a joint investigation by the Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale police departments. Linda Trischitta,, "Grand jury indicts man on murder charge in death of his unborn child," 4 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

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on mutilate

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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