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.

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Other Words from mutilate

mutilator \ ˈmyü-​tə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce mutilator (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

Her body at that point was partly naked, and her exposed breasts appeared to have been mutilated. Rod Nordland, New York Times, "Videos of Syrian Militia Abusing Kurdish Fighter’s Corpse Stir Outrage," 5 Feb. 2018 Martine Bernard's pregnant body, though mutilated, was intact when it was found Tuesday in a Waste Management trash container in an alley behind their Fort Lauderdale home. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "He tried to dismember his wife and burn her father after killing them, cops say," 14 June 2018 This show, which stars Chris Pine as the journalist who helps Fauna find out the truth, presents a genuinely compelling answer for what happened to Elizabeth Short, the actress found mutilated on the side of the road in Los Angeles. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "8 True Crime TV Shows of 2019 You Can't Look Away From," 15 Apr. 2019 Police denied news reports that Ramos had mutilated his fingertips to thwart his identification. Brian Witte,, "Suspect in newsroom rampage investigated for threats in 2013," 29 June 2018 The crime quickly became a tabloid sensation, partly because of the gruesome way Short's body had been mutilated, and partly due to Short's personal story. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The True Story of I Am the Night: How the Black Dahlia and George Hodel Were Connected," 10 Feb. 2019 The young girl’s mutilated body was later found in a creek. Paulina Dedaj, Fox News, "Man who raped and killed Florida girl, 8, draws death sentence," 2 Oct. 2018 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

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

11 Jun 2019

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 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

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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

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


something desired as essential

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