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 Becnel also held a knife to a dog and threatened to mutilate it, the report stated. David K. Li, NBC News, "Florida 14-year-old girl set up camera to prove physical abuse," 15 Jan. 2020 One of the militia’s most prominent commanders, Abu Azrael, is known for mutilating corpses and roasting people alive. Zack Kopplin, The New Republic, "Before the U.S. Bombed Soleimani’s Terrorists, It Bribed Them," 10 Jan. 2020 He is accused of breaking into the victim's house, holding him at gunpoint and tying him up before mutilating him. Kristin Lam, USA TODAY, "Florida man attacks wife's lover with scissors and flees with his penis, police say," 16 July 2019 Soldiers cut out women’s genitals as trophies, and paraded through the streets of Denver, Colorado, displaying human body parts carved from the mutilated dead. Ruth Hopkins, Teen Vogue, "Mass Shootings Are Connected to America’s Legacy of Anti-Indigenous Violence," 29 Nov. 2019 The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights recorded scores of incidents in which ethnic-minority civilians were kidnapped; many, including women, were executed, and ISIS and Turkish fighters mutilated female corpses. Alon Ben-meir, National Review, "The Yazidis’ Crisis Continues to Unfold — Ending It Is a Moral Imperative," 25 Nov. 2019 The Patriots are fortunate that left tackle Marshall Newhouse hasn’t gotten Brady folded, spindled, or mutilated beyond repair., "Patriots’ win over the Eagles," 18 Nov. 2019 Two years ago, another rancher told NPR that a cow was found mysteriously mutilated about 200 miles south of Silvies Valley Ranch. Fox News, "Conspiracy theories abound after mutilated cows found dead on Oregon ranch," 11 Oct. 2019 He was charged Wednesday in Waukesha County Circuit Court with first-degree intentional homicide, arson, mutilating a corpse and taking and driving a vehicle without consent. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Milwaukee man has been charged with arson, homicide and mutilating a corpse in a fatal Waukesha fire," 27 Nov. 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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Statistics for mutilate

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mutilate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for mutilate


How to pronounce mutilate (audio)

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.
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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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).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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