Definition of butcher in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbo͝oCHər/


1A person whose trade is cutting up and selling meat in a shop.
Example sentences
  • Markets often have butchers or cooked meat shops that specialize in the head and trotters, that is, the non-organ meats that are not suitable for stews and kebabs.
  • Yet another regulation about to impact on the local meat sector is a prohibition of cutting meat for wholesale in butchers ' shops.
  • We decided to sell direct to the customer in a shop, which would incorporate a traditional butcher's shop with cutting room and cold store.
1.1A person who slaughters and cuts up animals for food: a pork butcher
More example sentences
  • By Islamic custom, butchers must slaughter animals by cutting the throat.
  • The refinery, built in 1998, processes food waste and animal by-products collected from slaughterhouses, butchers and supermarkets.
  • It appeared to him that almost everyone was a butcher and when an animal was slaughtered, everything was used down to the last drop of blood.
1.2A person who kills or has people killed indiscriminately or brutally: a callous butcher of men
More example sentences
  • Just as providence protects drunks and fools, so it also spares the pseuds who make excuses for the butchers who have killed their neighbours.
  • I told him they were a bunch of murdering butchers and he didn't like that.
  • Up along the bay still seagulling like a mix of Welsh and Irish, bible black and pudding with fingers in his mouth - maybe his own this time, the slavering butcher, the killer in some eyes.
literary slayer
dated cutthroat, homicide
2North American informal A person selling refreshments, newspapers, and other items on a train or in a stadium or theater.


[with object]
1Slaughter or cut up (an animal) for food: the meat will be butchered for the local market
More example sentences
  • A ban on butchering downer cows - animals that stagger, can't walk, or exhibit other signs of BSE-will make no difference, either.
  • Scenes of milking, slaughtering and butchering cattle, and hunting wild cattle in swamps are also shown.
  • I recently stayed with some Bedouin tribes in Jordan, where the women did the bread-making while the men slaughtered and butchered the goat for us.
slaughter, cut up, carve up
1.1Kill (someone) brutally: they butchered 250 people
More example sentences
  • So, you murder, kill, and butcher, she thought cruelly, so what are you doing here in an office full of paperwork?
  • A civilized species does not kill, maim, butcher, blow up, whatever you want to call it.
  • They still exist in a time where an enemy is fit only to be butchered like an animal.
1.2Ruin (something) deliberately or through incompetence: the film was butchered by the studio that released it
More example sentences
  • White doesn't say so, but it seems safe to assume that they deliberately butchered it.
  • This time Fumento gets the issue date of the article correct, but he incomprehensibly butchers the quote.
  • And why should a studio butcher its own work when those abusing it freely admit that, no, they haven't even seen the movie?
spoil, ruin, mutilate, mangle, mess up, wreck
informal make a hash of, screw up, botch


Middle English: from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French bochier, from boc 'he-goat', probably of the same ultimate origin as buck1.

  • The origin of butcher may tell us something about the diet of early Europeans. It goes back to a French boc meaning ‘male goat’ that is probably related to buck ‘male deer’. A butcher was originally more a slaughterman than a salesman, and the word very quickly came to refer to a person responsible for the slaughter of many people, a brutal murderer. See also shambles. Butch [1940s] for ‘masculine’ may be a shortening of the word. In the phrase to have a butcher's, ‘to have a look’, butcher's is short for butcher's hook, rhyming slang for ‘a look’. The first known printed example dates from the 1930s.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: butch·er

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