viv·​i·​sec·​tion | \ ˌvi-və-ˈsek-shən How to pronounce vivisection (audio) , ˈvi-və-ˌsek- \

Definition of vivisection

1 : the cutting of or operation on a living animal usually for physiological or pathological investigation broadly : animal experimentation especially if considered to cause distress to the subject
2 : minute or pitiless examination or criticism

Other Words from vivisection

vivisectional \ ˌvi-​və-​ˈsek-​shnəl , -​shə-​nᵊl How to pronounce vivisection (audio) \ adjective
vivisectionist \ ˌvi-​və-​ˈsek-​sh(ə-​)nist How to pronounce vivisection (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

Vivisection includes the Latin root sect, meaning "cut". The Greek physician Galen, who lived during the 2nd century A.D., practiced vivisection on live monkeys and dogs to learn such things as the role of the spinal cord in muscle activity and whether veins and arteries carry air or blood; his findings formed the basis of medical practice for more than a thousand years. Vivisection continues to be used in drug and medical research today, but often in secret, since it makes most people very uncomfortable and some groups are violently opposed to it.

Examples of vivisection in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Only Charles’s second wife, Camilla, whom Brown depicts as horse-y and unflappable, escapes royal vivisection. Washington Post, 23 Apr. 2022 The man’s fate and the woman’s are said to have been sealed by a secret ritual; vivisection is supposed to be the man’s ultimate act of love toward her. Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo, The New York Review of Books, 14 Jan. 2021 His early novel The Sea and Poison (1957; English translation, 1995) treats the medical vivisection of American prisoners of war and its psychological effects on a doctor involved and was made into a successful Japanese film in the mid 1980s. M. D. Aeschliman, National Review, 12 Sep. 2021 Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins beat Peters one-on-one to convert on third-and-9 as the Baltimore defensive front failed to put any pressure on Mahomes, who then finished his vivisection with a nifty shovel pass to Anthony Sherman for touchdown No. 2. Childs Walker,, 29 Sep. 2020 After spending years performing comedic vivisection on the American political system with Veep, creator Armando Iannucci is back on HBO with Avenue 5. Kristen Baldwin,, 9 Jan. 2020 Her father had been a madman who practiced vivisection on human beings; the cruel scientist’s mistress — and Harriet’s mother — was a partly black Creole, who had inherited a taste for blood from the bite of a vampire bat. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 29 Oct. 2019 The New Deal had supposedly grafted these voters to the Democratic party for a generation, yet Dwight Eisenhower managed a spectacular vivisection. Jay Cost, National Review, 25 July 2019 The dilution of what constitutes real danger manifests in everything from far-right and far-left extremists engaging in violent and theatrical clashes to the vivisection of individuals’ social-media accounts in search of sins against propriety. Noah Rothman, National Review, 25 July 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vivisection.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of vivisection

1707, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vivisection

Latin vivus + English section

Learn More About vivisection

Time Traveler for vivisection

Time Traveler

The first known use of vivisection was in 1707

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near vivisection




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for vivisection

Last Updated

26 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vivisection.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for vivisection


vivi·​sec·​tion | \ ˌviv-ə-ˈsek-shən, ˈviv-ə-ˌ How to pronounce vivisection (audio) \

Medical Definition of vivisection

: the cutting of or operation on a living animal usually for physiological or pathological investigation broadly : animal experimentation especially if considered to cause distress or result in injury or death to the subject

Other Words from vivisection

vivisect \ -​ˈsekt How to pronounce vivisection (audio) \ verb
vivisectional \ ˌviv-​ə-​ˈsek-​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl How to pronounce vivisection (audio) \ adjective


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!