Definition of decapitate in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈkapəˌtāt/


[with object]
1Cut off the head of (a person or animal): (as adjective decapitated) a decapitated body
More example sentences
  • As a final gesture of revenge, Beowulf finds Grendel's body and decapitates him.
  • The second-half started with Colin Nish somehow remaining unpunished by referee Calum Murray for all but decapitating Alan Maybury, but it was symptomatic of Kilmarnock having more aggression about them.
  • Possibly a misprint, but did the man who was sentenced to three months for decapitating Margaret Thatcher's statue really offer to do 150,000 hours community work instead?
behead, guillotine, put on the block
1.1Attempt to undermine (a group or organization) by removing its leaders: Italy’s organized-crime network was decapitated when the godfather of the Sicilian Mafia was arrested
More example sentences
  • But I do see a clear pattern - a White House trying to decapitate another news organization.
  • The problem, though, is that you're not going to decapitate an organization like JI.
  • Sendero Luminoso has been decapitated, its leader Abimael Guzman is behind bars.



Pronunciation: /-ˌtātər/
Example sentences
  • He would have known that the chosen instrument of revolutionary vengeance was the guillotine, that relentless mechanical decapitator which made the streets of Paris run with royal and aristocratic blood.
  • What's she doing in a world of murderers, rapists, torturers, sadists, blood drinkers, decapitators and pimps?
  • The ALF, which is simply the name adopted by people who act illegally in behalf of animal rights, breaks inanimate objects such as stereotaxic devices and decapitators in order to save lives.


Early 17th century: from late Latin decapitat- 'decapitated', from the verb decapitare, from de- (expressing removal) + caput, capit- 'head'.

  • capital from Middle English:

    The first meaning of capital was ‘to do with the head or the top of something’. From this evolved such modern meanings as ‘the large form of a letter’ and ‘the chief city or town in a country’. The word goes back to Latin caput ‘head’. Capital in the financial sense was originally the capital stock of a company or trader, their main or original funds. The use as an adjective meaning ‘excellent’, now old-fashioned, dates from the mid 18th century. The capital of a column comes via French from Latin capitellum ‘a little head’. To capitulate (mid 16th century) is to admit that you are defeated and surrender. When it first entered the language it meant ‘to parley or draw up terms’, having come via French from medieval Latin capitulare ‘to draw up under headings’. Like capital, its ultimate root is Latin caput ‘head’, source also of cap, chapter, chief (Middle English), and captain (Late Middle English), both the ‘head’ of a group of people, and decapitate (early 17th century).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·cap·i·tate

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