Synonyms & Antonyms of murder

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 a situation or state that causes great suffering and unhappiness
  • this weather is murder on my sinuses

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2 the intentional and unlawful taking of another person's life
  • arrested for attempting to commit murder

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Synonyms & Antonyms of murder (Entry 2 of 2)

1 to put to death deliberately
  • those people made me so mad I felt like I wanted to murder them

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2 to make or do (something) in a clumsy or unskillful way
  • we listened in horror as she murdered our favorite song on stage

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About murder

How is the word murder distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of murder are assassinate, dispatch, execute, kill, and slay. While all these words mean "to deprive of life," murder specifically implies stealth and motive and premeditation and therefore full moral responsibility.

convicted of murdering a rival

When could assassinate be used to replace murder?

Although the words assassinate and murder have much in common, assassinate applies to deliberate killing openly or secretly often for political motives.

terrorists assassinated the Senator

When might dispatch be a better fit than murder?

The words dispatch and murder can be used in similar contexts, but dispatch stresses quickness and directness in putting to death.

dispatched the sentry with one bullet

Where would execute be a reasonable alternative to murder?

In some situations, the words execute and murder are roughly equivalent. However, execute stresses putting to death as a legal penalty.

executed by lethal gas

When would kill be a good substitute for murder?

While in some cases nearly identical to murder, kill merely states the fact of death caused by an agency in any manner.

killed in an accident

frost killed the plants

When is it sensible to use slay instead of murder?

While the synonyms slay and murder are close in meaning, slay is a chiefly literary term implying deliberateness and violence but not necessarily motive.

slew thousands of the Philistines

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Time Traveler for murder

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The first known use of murder was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Murder.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on murder

Nglish: Translation of murder for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of murder for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about murder


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