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 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 Even if the laws are circumvented, this gambit would mutilate constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Steve Chapman,, "Column: Trump’s crazy Electoral College scheme is doomed," 13 Nov. 2020 Pictures of Escamilla’s mutilated body were leaked and widely circulated, causing outrage on social media. Lorena Rios,, "Woman’s Grisly Murder in Mexico Puts AMLO on the Defensive," 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, "The Stunning Grounds, and Tragic History, of the Lost Gardens of Heligan," 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, "Tamir Rice legacy shows how artists can sensitively engage with racially charged history," 24 Nov. 2019 In this sweeping oral history of life during the Second World War, interviews with men and women who were children at the time coalesce into a haunting picture of how life is mutilated by war. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 17 Sep. 2019 In the latter case, police suggest the body may have been mutilated by wildlife. Chris Harris,, "Hiker Finds Decapitated Body in Los Angeles' Griffith Park," 4 Dec. 2019 Baghdadi’s body was mutilated by the blast, but Trump said a test had confirmed his identity., "WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Sunday that a commando raid in Syria this weekend had targeted and resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group, claiming a significant victory even as American forces are pulling out of the area.," 28 Oct. 2019 Al-Baghdadi’s body was mutilated by the blast but an on-site DNA test confirmed his identity, Trump said. Sanya Mansoor, Time, "'He Died Like a Dog': President Trump Announces ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Dies in U.S. Military Raid," 27 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for mutilate

Time Traveler

The first known use of mutilate was in 1534

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Cite this Entry

“Mutilate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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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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