Synonym Chooser

How is the word slay distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of slay are assassinate, dispatch, execute, kill, and murder. While all these words mean "to deprive of life," slay is a chiefly literary term implying deliberateness and violence but not necessarily motive.

slew thousands of the Philistines

Where would assassinate be a reasonable alternative to slay?

The words assassinate and slay can be used in similar contexts, but assassinate applies to deliberate killing openly or secretly often for political motives.

terrorists assassinated the Senator

In what contexts can dispatch take the place of slay?

Although the words dispatch and slay have much in common, dispatch stresses quickness and directness in putting to death.

dispatched the sentry with one bullet

When can execute be used instead of slay?

The words execute and slay are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, execute stresses putting to death as a legal penalty.

executed by lethal gas

When might kill be a better fit than slay?

The synonyms kill and slay are sometimes interchangeable, but 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 murder instead of slay?

While in some cases nearly identical to slay, murder specifically implies stealth and motive and premeditation and therefore full moral responsibility.

convicted of murdering a rival

Thesaurus Entries Near slay

Cite this Entry

“Slay.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

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