1 : to take salvageable parts from (as a disabled machine) for use in building or repairing another machine
2 : to take (sales) away from an existing product by selling or being sold as a similar but new product usually from the same manufacturer; also : to affect (as an existing product) adversely by cannibalizing sales
3 : to practice cannibalism
Did You Know?
During World War II, military personnel often used salvageable parts from disabled vehicles and aircraft to repair other vehicles and aircraft. This sacrifice of one thing for the sake of another of its kind must have reminded some folks of cannibalism by humans and animals, because the process came to be known as cannibalizing. The armed forces of this time were also known to cannibalize-that is, to take away personnel from-units to build up other units. It didn't take long for this military slang to become civilianized. Since its demobilization, the term has been used in a variety of contexts.
The company is risking cannibalizing sales of its flagship truck with this impressive-and less expensive-new model.
"Of the 71 buses in the district's current fleet, three are no longer operational but are being cannibalized for parts-everything from mirrors and batteries to compressors and alternators." - Pat Maio, The San Diego Union-Tribune, July 2, 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to create a word for someone who is a cannibal: a _ t _ _ op _ ph _ _ us. The answer is …
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