Definition of butcher in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbʊtʃə/


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 people indiscriminately or brutally.
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.
murderer, mass murderer, slaughterer, killer, assassin, serial killer, homicidal maniac, destroyer, terminator, liquidator
literary slayer
dated cut-throat, homicide
2North American informal A person selling refreshments, newspapers, etc. on a train or in a theatre.


[with object]
1Slaughter or cut up (an animal) for food.
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, slice up, joint, prepare, dress
1.1Kill (a person or people) indiscriminately or brutally: they rounded up and 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.
massacre, murder, slaughter, kill, put to death, dispatch, dispose of, destroy, exterminate, liquidate, eliminate, terminate, assassinate, put to the sword, cut down, cut to pieces
literary slay
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, mar, mutilate, mangle, cut about, mess up, make a mess of, wreck
informal murder, make a hash of, muck up, screw up, louse up


have (or take) a butcher's

British informal Have a look.
Butcher's from butcher's hook, rhyming slang for a 'look'
Example sentences
  • He kicks off at Kelvingrove in Glasgow where he will take a butcher's at Salvador Dali's St John Of The Cross.
  • Meanwhile, Sharky's takes a butcher's at the P3 1.13GHz CPU.
  • ‘I think I might just mosey on down and take a butcher's,’ the PFY says, exiting stage left.


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.

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