Definition of cannibalize in English:


(British 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’
    • ‘Old buildings should be cannibalised for reusable material like wood, brick and stone.’
    • ‘This underwater fleet rapidly surfaced and diminished as vessels were cannibalized to keep their sister craft operational.’
    • ‘The more dilapidated eastern end of the Turbine building was partly stripped and cannibalised for other parts of the building.’
    • ‘Twelve thousand were cannibalized for spare parts, leaving 8,000 for reconditioning and resale or rental.’
    • ‘To sustain operational tempo in the near term, spare parts are cannibalized from working equipment.’
    • ‘In recent months, the airline has been forced to cannibalise its existing fleet to provide spare parts.’
    • ‘The backyard lights look nice, and they'd better - I spent Saturday afternoon cannibalizing the entire system, harvesting good bulbs from bad lamps, winnowing 15 down to seven.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, tanks and other machinery had to be cannibalised to provide spare parts for front-line equipment.’
    • ‘Broken-down trucks were scavenged for usable parts and left by the roadside. Artillery units cannibalised parts from captured guns to keep their howitzers operating.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Instead, ground crews cannibalized what they needed to keep other planes in service.’
    • ‘The team's old minicomputer is gone, long since cannibalized for parts, but Hulse does retain his original printouts, on newspaper-like green paper.’
    • ‘The airport runway is lined with the rusted wrecks of other planes cannibalized for parts.’
    • ‘More than half the navy was not battle-ready because of cash shortages and many vessels were being cannibalised for spare parts, he said.’
    • ‘Pumps at the others have been cannibalised for parts, which causes further overgrazing at those wells in working order.’
    • ‘As Americans found out this week, the more enterprising of these soldiers find ways to improvise armor, diving into scrap heaps or cannibalizing damaged American vehicles.’
    • ‘As a spare parts resource, the mechanics cannibalized a Ju52 built for Lufthansa during the war and used as a military transport aircraft in Norway.’
    • ‘This was originally a cheap Tandy keyboard which I cannibalised.’
    • ‘None was in good working order and one had been smashed up in an accident, but Chris was able to salvage the only left-hand driver of the trio by cannibalising the other two.’
    • ‘While Cyclo Nord-Sud focuses exclusively on helping people in the South, one cycling group with a local angle is SOS Vélo, now issuing a call-out for decrepit bikes that will be cannibalized and transformed into workable wheels.’
    1. 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’
      • ‘Samsung risks cannibalizing its traditional business by pushing clients to trade online, where fees are lower.’
      • ‘Companies that cannibalize their own business lines by offering something better are much less likely to be eaten alive by the outside competition.’
      • ‘We did that even though we're the largest producers of personal computers, because if we don't cannibalize our own product line, somebody else will.’
      • ‘Most, if not all, of the leading fixed-income underwriters have or are developing their own software to conduct online auctions, but few are yet prepared to use it for fear of cannibalizing their existing underwriting business.’
      • ‘Many industry insiders are concerned that Budweiser Select, for example, will only cannibalize sales of established brands like Bud Light.’
      • ‘That has to be cannibalizing some of the profits at the box office.’
      • ‘The overall beer market has been shrinking for the last 20 years, making it extremely difficult for brewers to create sustainable growth without cannibalising their existing UK brands.’
      • ‘‘With the Escape we wanted to attract different customers, but we don't want to cannibalize Explorer sales,’ Takasawa says.’
      • ‘Mitsubishi takes fifth place, too, with the Spacewagon, although it looks as if its sales are being cannibalised by the smaller Spacestar.’
      • ‘This venture indicates that GE may be willing to cannibalize its own businesses rather than lose to a competitor.’
      • ‘To succeed, they must develop an online strategy that leverages their existing infrastructure while complementing, rather than cannibalizing, their main walk-in business.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Mac maker would certainly need to be sure that MacOS X for Intel wouldn't cannibalise its hardware sales, as the availability of the OS running on a 1.5GHz AMD Athlon box might well do.’
      • ‘While it seems like telcos are beginning to recognize what's happening in the world out there, it's still interesting to see a telco CEO so clearly recognize the need to cannibalize its own best businesses.’
      • ‘They'll be waiting for about a year into the GMT 900 production to bring out the hybrid versions so as to not cannibalize conventional internal combustion engine sales.’
      • ‘They can attract dial-up users without cannibalizing existing broadband revenues.’
      • ‘And banks like OCBC, which already offer Internet banking and are still setting up a separate e-bank, risk cannibalizing their business.’
      • ‘In 1998, Alize Red Passion was launched nationally and hit the ground running, somewhat at the cost of cannibalizing Alize Gold.’
      • ‘Levi Strauss launched its Signature discount jeans in 2003, insisting they wouldn't cannibalize Levi's Red Tab department-store jeans.’
      • ‘In fact, the old issue of the wisdom of launching Internet divisions and potentially cannibalizing existing business has been resurrected.’
  • 2(of an animal) eat (an animal of its own kind)

    ‘female spiders cannibalize courting males’
    • ‘Egg-laying hens are housed in 18-by - 24-inch cages with wire bottoms, often with their beaks removed, because mad chickens have been known to cannibalize each other.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If the first male was cannibalized and thus could not guard the female, the second male always reached the female and was significantly more likely to mate.’
    • ‘With no time for foraging, males sometimes cannibalize some of the eggs under their care.’
    • ‘I guess it was supposed to light up in case the elevator got stuck, to let you know that the firemen were coming so you wouldn't start freaking out and cannibalizing your fellow passengers.’
    • ‘The golden orb-web spider Nephila plumipes frequently cannibalizes males both before and during copulation.’
    • ‘Weekly censuses continued until 10 September 2000, when new wasps were no longer eclosing and gynes (future foundresses) were cannibalizing larvae.’
    • ‘In the female present experiment, males might disappear if they left the web or if they mated and were cannibalized, but male disappearance in the female absent experiment could only represent male abandonment of the female web.’
    • ‘Females begin to cannibalize males during the first copulation, but males usually survive and achieve a second copulation following a second period of courtship.’
    • ‘Additionally, larger males may be more attractive prey items than smaller males, and hence more frequently cannibalized.’
    • ‘This may occur if females cannibalize their dead brothers or are prevented from inbreeding or competing with them.’
    • ‘Inside the coprolites, pieces of T. rex bone were found, indicating that the dinosaur in question had cannibalized - either through attacking or scavenging - another T. rex.’
    • ‘But other perils may have awaited his tadpoles: researchers have found that despite their paternal inclinations, male African bullfrogs sometimes cannibalize their young.’
    • ‘Most females proceed to cannibalize the male during copulation (for details on the copulatory sequence, see Forster 1995).’
    • ‘No male was cannibalized during the experiment, although the female had several opportunities to do so.’
    • ‘Nest-tending parentals that are cuckolded more provide less care to their young and are more likely to partially cannibalize or even abandon their brood.’
    • ‘Twenty three dead animals were removed from the premises, some of them had cannibalised each other.’