Definition of impale in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪmˈpeɪl/


[with object]
1Transfix or pierce with a sharp instrument: his head was impaled on a pike and exhibited for all to see
More example sentences
  • Why is it when someone in a horror film is impaled on something sharp, like a fence post, they always feel the need to look up momentarily, catching one final glance at the object that has killed them?
  • Prey is not chewed or ground in the mouth: once it is impaled on the sharp teeth, it is swallowed whole.
  • At one end of the grotto, an elf is impaled on a spike.
pierce, stab, run through, bayonet, harpoon, lance;
gore, disembowel;
puncture, perforate
2 Heraldry Display (a coat of arms) side by side with another on the same shield, separated by a vertical line: (as adjective impaled) the impaled arms of her husband and her father
2.1(Of a coat of arms) adjoin (another coat of arms) on the same shield: the arms of the order are impaling those of the sovereign
More example sentences
  • In heraldic language, the arms of the two families are joined after a marriage, as demonstrated by the arms of Cadwalader on the left impaling those of the Lloyd family of Maryland on the right.
  • What is equally clear, however, is that the arms as engraved are not impaling his wife's, nor do they include his baronial coronet or the Garter badge, both of which he had been entitled to since 1572.
  • In 1599 he applied to impale his arms with those of his wife's family.



Pronunciation: /ɪmˈpeɪlm(ə)nt/
Example sentences
  • Death by impalement involved piercing the victim with one end of a sharp stake, planting the other end in the ground, and leaving the person, at gravity's mercy, to sink further down into the spear.
  • A more satisfactory ending for the character might have been impalement from giant stalactite.
  • But if you do not return in seven days, then your lord will be sentenced to impalement.


Example sentences
  • Vlad Tepez, the real Dracula and true impaler, could not have done a finer job.


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'enclose with stakes or pales'): from French empaler or medieval Latin impalare, from Latin in- 'in' + palus 'a stake'.

  • pale from Middle English:

    The word for a ‘stake’ is from Old French pal, from Latin palus ‘stake’, which ultimately goes back to the same root found in page and pageant as well as paling (Late Middle English). The Pale was a name given to the part of Ireland under English jurisdiction before the 16th century. The earliest reference to the Pale in Ireland, from the modestly titled Introduction to Knowledge of 1547, stated that Ireland was divided into two parts, one being the English Pale and the other being ‘the wild Irish’. Many people believe that this enclosed English part of Ireland was the source of the expression beyond the pale but this is extremely unlikely, as the phrase is not recorded until the 18th century, and its origin remains something of a mystery. The Latin also gives us palisade (early 17th century), and impale (mid 16th century) first found in the sense ‘surround with a pale, fortify’, with ‘thrust a stake though’ recorded from the late 17th century. The adjective meaning ‘light’ comes via Old French pale from Latin pallidus, with the same meaning, and also the source of pallor (Late Middle English) and pallid (late 16th century), and has been in the language since the Middle Ages.

Words that rhyme with impale

ail, ale, assail, avail, bail, bale, bewail, brail, Braille, chain mail, countervail, curtail, dale, downscale, drail, dwale, entail, exhale, fail, faille, flail, frail, Gael, Gail, gale, Grail, grisaille, hail, hale, jail, kale, mail, male, webmail, nonpareil, outsail, pail, pale, quail, rail, sail, sale, sangrail, scale, shale, snail, stale, swale, tail, tale, they'll, trail, upscale, vail, vale, veil, surveil, wail, wale, whale, Yale

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: im¦pale

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