Definition of butcher in English:



  • 1A person whose trade is cutting up and selling meat in a shop.

    • ‘Over the past two months, our selectors have been chopping and changing the side more in the manner of a butcher in a meat shop rather than making changes with any rationale behind them.’
    • ‘I want the butcher's shops, greengrocers and bakers and so forth that have now all moved to Clifton Moor and Monks Cross.’
    • ‘One day at the butcher shop, the butcher's son picks on them.’
    • ‘Fat stock are animals that are sold to butchers for meat’
    • ‘Ms Milburn said the raid had come about because of a tip-off from Bradford Council that they had seized meat at a Keighley butcher's shop which had been slaughtered at the farm.’
    • ‘Another case for their records, another freak they can ogle and prod like a piece of meat in a butcher's shop.’
    • ‘It's now almost seven years since the last huge blaze when flames swept through historic wooden framed High Street buildings with the butcher's shop and betting office on the ground floor.’
    • ‘Health authorities traced the bacterial infection E.coli 0157 to a butcher's shop selling cooked meat pies.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many groceries, butchers and cheese shops can be found along St-Laurent a few blocks south of Jean-Talon, with plenty of places to stop for an espresso along the way.’
    • ‘I understand that a television programme had set out to expose the ‘black economy’ in selling meat to butchers and restaurants that had been illegally slaughtered.’
    • ‘The recent success of farmers selling meat direct to the public is being threatened by legislation to stop butchers cutting meat for sale anywhere but in their own shops.’
    • ‘From August 1, butchers and other meat traders will no longer be able to send surplus or unfit meat to be disposed of at landfill rubbish sites.’
    • ‘A family-run butcher and fishmonger shop in Witham is celebrating 50 years of trading.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Grocery stores did not sell meat, and the butchers did not usually have a late night.’
    • ‘People and carts ran throughout the dusty dirt streets and animals being traded or sold to butchers or other farmers crowded the path.’
    • ‘And there was a furrier and a butcher and a shop selling fine wines.’
    • ‘There were vendors selling fruits and vegetables, butchers selling meats, tradesmen selling expensive cloths, and so on.’
    meat seller, meat merchant, meat trader
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    1. 1.1 A person who slaughters and cuts up animals for food:
      ‘a pork butcher’
      • ‘He also refused to compromise on quality and that meant rejecting parts of the animals that some butchers put into their products.’
      • ‘After slaughtering the animal, the butcher gave the children a close-up look at the heart, tendons and other internal organs of the cow.’
      • ‘Opinions on everything from the psyche of purchasing to pork butchers are shot through the narrative.’
      • ‘A son of Patrick and Gabrielle O'Rourke, he has been a butcher in the Food Experience in Sligo for the past six years.’
      • ‘In a statement read by West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchliff, his son told how his father had left school at 14 and began work as a butcher and slaughterman in Leeds.’
      • ‘As such, only those butchers who slaughter their own animals can produce it.’
      • ‘Residents drove the cow into the open ground between two houses, where it was secured by police and then slaughtered by a butcher from the slaughter house.’
      • ‘Winders had offered a service, allowing butchers to buy from individual farmers, get the animals slaughtered at Ulverston and delivered direct to them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Surely a woman in the 1950's would be likely to buy one already slaughtered from a butcher.’
      • ‘The story began on Sunday night when a butcher tried to slaughter the buffalo.’
      • ‘A while later we were attacked by butchers from the nearby slaughterhouse.’
      • ‘By Islamic custom, butchers must slaughter animals by cutting the throat.’
      • ‘After almost 30 years of working six days a week, Otley pork butchers David and Barbara Brown are looking forward to a day off.’
      • ‘There have been anti-government protests outside the Senate and the Agricultural Ministry, and strikes by butchers and slaughterhouses.’
      • ‘To be certified as halal an animal must be slaughtered by a Muslim butcher who recites a prayer over the animal and then quickly slits its throat.’
      • ‘The first offence committed by the butcher was to slaughter an animal at a place not so designated.’
      • ‘No one is in a better position to reassure consumers about any doubts they may have about the origin and quality of food than a butcher.’
      • ‘The refinery, built in 1998, processes food waste and animal by-products collected from slaughterhouses, butchers and supermarkets.’
      • ‘His dad was a butcher and slaughterman who was often out of work in the depression, and times were hard.’
      meat seller, meat merchant, meat trader
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    2. 1.2 A person who kills people indiscriminately or brutally.
      • ‘Here, our victims are merely statistics whereas bombers are called soldiers instead of terrorists, murderers, butchers…’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It immediately made me think of serial killers and butchers.’
      • ‘Their people will have an opportunity for democracy and freedom instead of being under the regime of this murderous butcher and his family.’
      • ‘I figure that if people can wear a T-shirt that portrays a ruthless butcher that terrorized my country of birth as a hero, then I can wear a shirt proclaiming my views.’
      • ‘No one can deny that Macbeth is a ruthless butcher and bloody fiend.’
      • ‘I told him they were a bunch of murdering butchers and he didn't like that.’
      • ‘He is the godfather of the settlement movement, a butcher and the master of a brutal and relentless occupation.’
      • ‘With a galactic reputation for being butchers, and ravenous executioners, the Rangers weren't known for leaving anyone alive after an operation.’
      • ‘Just as providence protects drunks and fools, so it also spares the pseuds who make excuses for the butchers who have killed their neighbours.’
      • ‘And all it does is, you know, reinvent his image as a murderer and as a butcher, and it reminds people of what people believe he did.’
      • ‘‘He is a butcher, he tortures people, kills them personally,’ Mr Rumsfeld said in Atlanta, Georgia.’
      murderer, mass murderer, slaughterer, killer, assassin, serial killer, homicidal maniac, destroyer, terminator, liquidator
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  • 2North American informal A person selling refreshments, newspapers, etc. on a train or in a theatre.


  • 1 Slaughter or cut up (an animal) for food.

    • ‘The ponies would be butchered in foreign slaughterhouses and could end up on menus in countries such as France, where the meat is a delicacy.’
    • ‘It was butchered by the studio and emerged shorn of 40 minutes in 1980.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whitewater's grandmother, who is the matriarch, decides which sheep are butchered and when.’
    • ‘One girl had watched her cousin butcher a sheep before and she thought we should get a whole animal.’
    • ‘Researchers believe that Ebola is most commonly transmitted when people butcher infected apes for food.’
    • ‘Also, Mr Clarke can butcher a beast for his shop on a wooden block behind the counter.’
    • ‘The early humans butchered the elephant at the kill site and ate the meat raw, the archaeologists add.’
    • ‘But others were systematically butchered and prepared for food.’
    • ‘A ban on butchering downer cows - animals that stagger, can't walk, or exhibit other signs of BSE-will make no difference, either.’
    • ‘Then he dragged out a small knife and began cleanly butchering the deer.’
    • ‘Women do the daily cooking, while men butcher pigs for feasts.’
    • ‘Although she observed no live cattle being butchered, she concluded that the plant's older-style equipment was ‘overloaded.’’
    • ‘For example, the team recovered six larger stones known as cores, from which flint tools used for butchering the elephant were chipped.’
    • ‘I'm not familiar with the book, though I've read that the film version butchered the story a bit, cutting out major plot points and character development.’
    • ‘Other neighbors have found migrants butchering their newborn calves, opening water lines to drink - leaving them flowing - and stealing their trucks.’
    • ‘Among this group were men who could do anything from butchering a cow to fixing a motor with a piece of wire or operating on a casualty with a jackknife.’
    • ‘Each year, Old Sturbridge Village butchers a pig in early December.’
    • ‘I've even seen her helping to butcher cattle, much to the surprise of the soldiers.’
    • ‘Therefore, last spring my husband spent several days butchering our winter rabbits.’
    • ‘Scenes of milking, slaughtering and butchering cattle, and hunting wild cattle in swamps are also shown.’
    • ‘The researchers found horse skulls and backbones in the villages, indicating that horses were butchered on site.’
    slaughter, cut up, carve up, slice up, joint, prepare, dress
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    1. 1.1 Kill (a person or people) indiscriminately or brutally:
      ‘they rounded up and butchered 250 people’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Outside the gates, the extremists are butchering the minority while the west twiddles its thumbs and debates the distinction between ‘genocide’ and ‘acts of genocide’.’
      • ‘These three were flying over the village in their helicopter and saw the soldiers butchering the inhabitants with no ‘enemy’ in sight.’
      • ‘This is a war that cannot be won by the military without butchering thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of their citizens.’
      • ‘The Glencoe massacre was an infamous episode in Scottish history when members of the MacDonald clan were butchered by government soldiers, led by a rival clan chief Robert Campbell.’
      • ‘The soldiers butchered scores of policemen and their families in a most horrific manner, then left their bodies to rot in the basement of a courthouse.’
      • ‘So, you murder, kill, and butcher, she thought cruelly, so what are you doing here in an office full of paperwork?’
      • ‘In 19 th-century Malaya young men ran amok butchering strangers with a sword, usually after suffering a massive blow to their self-esteem or prestige.’
      • ‘A botched move to a market economy and corrupt spending of offshore oil revenue were followed by a succession of civil wars in which rebel and government forces raped and butchered civilians.’
      • ‘They'd be butchered, slaughtered like sheep before wave after wave of fierce counterattack.’
      • ‘After that they started butchering the Miskito Indians of the Atlantic coast who refused the communists attempt to collectivize their fishing fleet.’
      • ‘Previous tapes did show hooded men butchering their captives.’
      • ‘What could their military learn now that it didn't learn during the 1970s and 80s when military ties were very open and they were butchering ethnic minorities?’
      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
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    2. 1.2 Ruin (something) deliberately or through incompetence:
      ‘the film was butchered by the studio that released it’
      • ‘I had to spend twice as long butchering my work as I did writing it in the first place!’
      • ‘So who butchers the French language worse, the English or Germans?’
      • ‘He would certainly sacrifice his own life, knowing that he had butchered thousands of Americans.’
      • ‘White doesn't say so, but it seems safe to assume that they deliberately butchered it.’
      • ‘A reviewer butchers an original text, taking that which seems necessary to get the text to say what must be said, and excising the rest.’
      • ‘If you had an incompetent employee who was costing you money and butchering important relationships, wouldn't you want to know?’
      • ‘This time Fumento gets the issue date of the article correct, but he incomprehensibly butchers the quote.’
      • ‘Certainly life is not all negative, but I read a quote from Thomas Hardy, and I know I'm butchering it, but he basically said that you can't really hope to remedy the dark side of life until you first have looked at it.’
      • ‘She seems to be out of her mind, butchering this beautiful song.’
      • ‘Let me state that this is my interpretation; so the best ideas came from the professor, and I may have butchered them here and that will be completely my fault.’
      • ‘And why should a studio butcher its own work when those abusing it freely admit that, no, they haven't even seen the movie?’
      • ‘He accused the minister's office of butchering his education policy which he called a third way between publicly funded and fee paying higher education.’
      • ‘At least when he butchers a word he does it by accident.’
      • ‘I suspect it works because it's both written and directed by one person so it avoided the usual problem of a moderately good script being butchered by the director.’
      • ‘There was neither ease nor grace as I butchered the edges of the tin lid; deep gouges of torn aluminium and the screech of metal on metal as I twisted the tin round in a stuttered, clumsy motion.’
      • ‘A leading academic has launched a vicious attack on the country's powerful propaganda department, claiming it has butchered freedom of speech and protects corrupt officials.’
      • ‘Oh yes, I hate this singer for butchering this song.’
      • ‘He challenged his opponent's mendacity (and badly butchered a response on malpractice reform).’
      spoil, ruin, mar, mutilate, mangle, cut about, mess up, make a mess of, wreck
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  • have (or take) a butcher's

    • informal Have a look.

      • ‘We don't usually write about boozers, but being ex-pats we are always intrigued by foreign attempts at British-style pubs, so Bob and I popped into the recently established Dog & Bone down Lambton Quay to have a butcher's.’
      • ‘In the case of Peter Sarstedt, music and lyrics gave the impression that the singer intended to crack the listener over the head with a lump hammer and have a butcher's inside.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Have a butchers at the first team squad and read each players profile.’
      • ‘So have a butchers at that if nothing else.’
      • ‘Anders suggests that I ‘have a butcher's’ at this page, which glosses diamond geezer as ‘A really wonderful man, helpful and reliable; a gem of a man.’’
      glance, gaze, stare, gape, peer, fix one's gaze, focus
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Middle English: from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French bochier, from boc he-goat, probably of the same ultimate origin as buck.