Definition of maul in English:

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Pronunciation: /mɔːl/


[with object]
1(Of an animal) wound (a person or animal) by scratching and tearing: a man was mauled by a lion at London Zoo
More example sentences
  • At Babylon there is a famous basalt statue of a man being mauled by a lion.
  • A mother whose two dogs mauled a young girl today pleaded for them not to be destroyed and claimed: ‘My dogs are not dangerous.’
  • The patient was mauled by a pet Labrador in June, leaving her with severe facial injuries that her doctors said made it difficult for her to speak and eat.
savage, attack, tear to pieces, lacerate, claw, mutilate, mangle, scratch
1.1Treat (something) savagely or roughly: the body was badly mauled in battle
More example sentences
  • This was not the first time Darwin had been severely damaged by a cyclone: it was badly mauled in both January 1897 and March 1937.
  • ‘We all had it,’ she says, sitting on a rug in front of her mud hut while her granddaughter mauls a stalk of sugarcane.
  • More riots are expected as a 30% transport and bread price increase mauls family budgets.
1.2Handle (someone) roughly, especially for sexual gratification: she hated being mauled by macho chauvinist pigs
More example sentences
  • After the third time we hung out, we were lying on her bed at like three in the morning and all of a sudden, she just mauls me.
  • Just because someone is willing to see what you're like to kiss does not mean you have an open invitation to maul him or her.
  • She herself enjoys a few moments of heightened sexual pleasure, and she enthusiastically mauls a couple of obnoxious idiots.
1.3 informal Defeat heavily in a game or match: the team were mauled 4-0 by Manchester City
More example sentences
  • Wales have shown signs of recovering from the terrible mauling they received at the hands of an Irish side that was, in turn, given something of a good hiding by England at Twickenham.
  • They approached this game with some trepidation following a 6-1 mauling at the hands of the same opposition only three weeks earlier.
  • His fury came as his side went down to their biggest home defeat since the 53-25 mauling by Exeter in 1977.
1.4Subject to fierce criticism: (as noun mauling) he faces a mauling at next week’s conference
More example sentences
  • Despite it all, he wrote a fictionalised account of his disastrous passion and was promptly mauled by critics and friends alike.
  • It is attracting much controversy, as well as being mauled by the movie critics.
  • If a book has been mauled by our critics, one can hardly expect the massacre to be put on display in a shop aiming to shift copies of the offending item.
criticize, denigrate, attack, censure, condemn, find fault with, give a bad press to, pillory, lambaste, flay, savage
informal knock, slam, pan, bash, take/pull to pieces, take apart, crucify, hammer, lay into, roast, skewer
British informal slate, rubbish, slag off, monster
North American informal pummel, cut up
Australian/New Zealand informal bag
rare excoriate
1.5 [no object] Rugby Take part in a maul: the forwards rucked and mauled to near perfection
More example sentences
  • Missing some key men among six absent first-team regulars, they suffered in the set scrummage but rucked and mauled well.
  • The home team had plenty of early possession, and adopted the obvious tactics of hitting the ball up close to ruck and maul via their big men.
  • With an all new control system that is intuitive and user friendly, players will be rucking, mauling, and kicking like champions in no time.


1(In rugby union) a loose scrum formed around a player with the ball off the ground. Compare with ruck1.
Example sentences
  • The grounding of the ball in a driven maul satisfied the touch judge, but not the referee, and another chance disappeared.
  • Little headway was made in the maul but the ball was switched across the field.
  • They then executed a well-controlled maul before the ball was flashed out to the opposite flank.
2 another term for beetle2 (sense 1 of the noun).


Middle English (in the sense 'hammer or wooden club', also 'strike with a heavy weapon'): from Old French mail, from Latin malleus 'hammer'.

  • mall from mid 17th century:

    The game pall-mall was popular in the 17th century. Players used a mallet to drive a boxwood ball through an iron ring suspended at the end of a long alley, itself also called a pall-mall. The game got its name, via French, from the Italian for ‘ball’ and ‘mallet’. Pall Mall, a street in central London known for its large number of private clubs and formerly a fashionable place to promenade, was originally a pall-mall for the game. From the 18th century other sheltered places for walking came to be called malls—the first reference to a mall for shopping dates from 1950 in the USA. Malleable (Late Middle English) got its name from the same source as mall, for it originally meant ‘able to be hammered’ and goes back, like mallet (Late Middle English) and maul (Middle English), to Latin malleus ‘hammer’.

Words that rhyme with maul

all, appal (US appall), awl, Bacall, ball, bawl, befall, Bengal, brawl, call, caul, crawl, Donegal, drawl, drywall, enthral (US enthrall), fall, forestall, gall, Galle, Gaul, hall, haul, miaul, miscall, Montreal, Naipaul, Nepal, orle, pall, Paul, pawl, Saul, schorl, scrawl, seawall, Senegal, shawl, small, sprawl, squall, stall, stonewall, tall, thrall, trawl, wall, waul, wherewithal, withal, yawl

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