Definition of cannibalize in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkanɪb(ə)lʌɪz/
(also cannibalise)


[with object]
1Use (a machine) as a source of spare parts for another, similar machine: cannibalizing two broken-down cars might provide spare parts to make one working car
More example sentences
  • Meanwhile, tanks and other machinery had to be cannibalised to provide spare parts for front-line equipment.
  • And the Farnley Flyer, a machine whose chassis was cannibalised from two BMX bikes rescued from a dump by pupils from Farnley Park High School, Leeds, outstripped the field to win by a clear margin.
  • More than half the navy was not battle-ready because of cash shortages and many vessels were being cannibalised for spare parts, he said.
1.1(Of a company) reduce the sales of (one of its products) by introducing another similar product: the suppliers did not want to cannibalize high-margin business with low-margin sales
More example sentences
  • They can sell to Canada at close to marginal cost and cannibalize profitable sales in the US; or they can let Canadian generic manufacturers do it for them.
  • ‘With the Escape we wanted to attract different customers, but we don't want to cannibalize Explorer sales,’ Takasawa says.
  • Many industry insiders are concerned that Budweiser Select, for example, will only cannibalize sales of established brands like Bud Light.
2(Of an animal) eat (an animal of its own kind): female spiders cannibalize courting males
More example sentences
  • When females encounter larvae more than 20 h before their own larvae hatch, they invariably kill these larvae, and some females cannibalize larvae hatching 9-12 h before their own.
  • Weekly censuses continued until 10 September 2000, when new wasps were no longer eclosing and gynes (future foundresses) were cannibalizing larvae.
  • The golden orb-web spider Nephila plumipes frequently cannibalizes males both before and during copulation.



Pronunciation: /kanɪb(ə)lʌɪˈzeɪʃ(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • Newspaper companies will begin to ask the proper questions about digital media, instead of simply mumbling about cannibalization and print.
  • The extent of internet cannibalisation in classified advertising is as yet unknown.
  • Where there used to be insight, there is now only cannibalisation of older, bigger ideas.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: can¦ni¦bal|ize

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.