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Synonym Chooser

How is the word kill distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of kill are assassinate, dispatch, execute, murder, and slay. While all these words mean "to deprive of life," kill merely states the fact of death caused by an agency in any manner.

killed in an accident
frost killed the plants

In what contexts can assassinate take the place of kill?

While in some cases nearly identical to kill, assassinate applies to deliberate killing openly or secretly often for political motives.

terrorists assassinated the Senator

When would dispatch be a good substitute for kill?

While the synonyms dispatch and kill are close in meaning, dispatch stresses quickness and directness in putting to death.

dispatched the sentry with one bullet

When is it sensible to use execute instead of kill?

The meanings of execute and kill largely overlap; however, execute stresses putting to death as a legal penalty.

executed by lethal gas

Where would murder be a reasonable alternative to kill?

The synonyms murder and kill are sometimes interchangeable, but murder specifically implies stealth and motive and premeditation and therefore full moral responsibility.

convicted of murdering a rival

When might slay be a better fit than kill?

In some situations, the words slay and kill are roughly equivalent. However, slay is a chiefly literary term implying deliberateness and violence but not necessarily motive.

slew thousands of the Philistines

Thesaurus Entries Near kill

Cite this Entry

“Kill.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

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