mu·​ti·​la·​tion | \ ˌmyü-tə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce mutilation (audio) \
plural mutilations

Definition of mutilation

1 : an act or instance of destroying, removing, or severely damaging a limb or other body part of a person or animal the mutilation of a body They were men who had been sexually damaged by disease, accident, or deliberate mutilation.— James J. O'Donnell His book contains very many gruesome accounts of murder and mutilation, and page after page describing torture in almost salacious detail.— Geoffrey Wheatcroft — see also female genital mutilation
2 : an act or instance of damaging or altering something radically Evidence suggests that the mutilation of the sculptures was deliberate. Thus an author has the right of paternity (authorship) and integrity (the right to object to derogatory actions, distortion, mutilation or other modifications in relation to his or her work that would be prejudicial to the artist's honor or reputation).— Judith Nierman Critics described the proposed structure as a "vast pile of masonry" that they feared would never be removed and would become a "permanent mutilation of Hyde Park."— Henry Petroski

First Known Use of mutilation

1517, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of mutilation was in 1517

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Cite this Entry

“Mutilation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for mutilation


mu·​ti·​la·​tion | \ ˌmyüt-ᵊl-ˈā-shən How to pronounce mutilation (audio) \

Medical Definition of mutilation

1 : deprivation of a limb or essential part especially by excision the mutilation of a body
2 : an instance of mutilating


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