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 The man was charged with animal cruelty and mutilating an animal. Washington Post, "Crime reports for Anne Arundel and Howard counties and for Annapolis," 21 Aug. 2019 Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez, 36, of Brook, Indiana, was taken into custody on charges of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a felony. Amanda Jackson, CNN, "An arrest has been made in the Fair Oaks Farms animal cruelty case," 12 June 2019 The wasp returns to find an exhausted roach, mutilates its antenna, and leads it back to the nest, where the cockroach then sits still as the wasp lays its born-voracious larva inside its body. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Inside the Forever War Against Parasites Trying To Control Our Brains," 23 Sep. 2019 He's seen colleagues mutilated, their hands and arms cut, their eyes plucked out for failing to pay these armed groups their share. Vasco Cotovio, CNN, "A trail of 'bloody gold' leads to Venezuela's government," 20 Aug. 2019 The Animal Protection and Rescue League alleges that Rabbi Netanel Louie killed and discarded the chickens without using them for food, violating an animal rights law that bars maliciously and intentionally mutilating, torturing or wounding animals. Los Angeles Times, "Jewish center sued over controversial chicken-killing ritual," 26 July 2019 Gardozo Vazquez is being held at the Newton County Jail on a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty and a felony charge of torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, police said. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Former Fair Oaks employee arrested; faces animal torture, cruelty charges," 12 June 2019 Gardozo-Vasquez, 36, was taken into custody on a warrant for charges of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a felony, the Newton County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Ginger Rough, Indianapolis Star, "Suspect in Fair Oaks Farms animal abuse case was in country illegally, ICE says," 5 June 2019 His request came after two inmates died in custody, a third inmate gave birth alone in her cell and a fourth mutilated himself at the jail. Rafael Olmeda,, "Teen on life support after hanging himself at Broward jail," 4 Sep. 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

26 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Mutilate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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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).


very cautious or careful

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