Definition of decapitate in English:



[with object]
  • 1Cut off the head of (someone)

    ‘with one swift movement, he decapitated the king’
    • ‘The chief wasn't so lucky; he was decapitated and died.’
    • ‘Everyone was very friendly and helpful too, apart from one Italian skier who almost decapitated me by turning very suddenly while carrying his skis on his shoulder.’
    • ‘As a final gesture of revenge, Beowulf finds Grendel's body and decapitates him.’
    • ‘A laugh escaped his lips when he saw my pain and I only felt like taking that steak knife and doing the world a favor by decapitating him.’
    • ‘Ancroe broke his opponent's sword with his axe and then decapitated him.’
    • ‘An eighth film is in the can for this year and ignores the fact that at the end of Halloween H20 Michael was literally decapitated.’
    • ‘They were not merely murdered; they were decapitated and the heads taken by their assailant.’
    • ‘She kicked goal after goal, each one whizzing past my face and coming this close to decapitating me.’
    • ‘If he loses, he is decapitated and his head mounted on a pike.’
    • ‘He never saw the blade swing through the air as it decapitated him.’
    • ‘Three of the slain policemen were decapitated after being shot during clashes with demonstrators last week.’
    • ‘After dropping 35 ft, he hit a metal fence which decapitated him.’
    • ‘A bolt struck one of the assailants in the neck and nearly decapitated him.’
    • ‘Nicklaus cannot contain his delight as the final putt drops: he throws his putter into the air, nearly decapitating the unfortunate Sanders as it comes down.’
    • ‘The High Court in Edinburgh heard how after he had strangled her with his bare hands he tried to decapitate her with a bread knife.’
    • ‘They would have needed the Jaws of Life to get her out of the car if the windshield hadn't caved in and decapitated her.’
    • ‘The killer sawed through the neck and spinal column, almost to the point of decapitating him.’
    • ‘Possibly a misprint, but did the man who was sentenced to three months for decapitating Margaret Thatcher's statue really offer to do 150,000 hours community work instead?’
    • ‘A woman's car accidentally hits a truck while, in slow motion, a piece of metal crashes through the windshield and decapitates her.’
    • ‘The second-half started with Colin Nish somehow remaining unpunished by referee Calum Murray for all but decapitating Alan Maybury, but it was symptomatic of Kilmarnock having more aggression about them.’
    behead, cut off the head of, guillotine, put on the block
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Attempt to undermine (a group or organization) by removing its leaders.
      ‘the Church had been decapitated by the arrest and deportation of all its bishops’
      • ‘The essence of this operation which began Wednesday a week ago was to decapitate the leadership and I'm sure that's still a very, very high objective.’
      • ‘‘Remember, you will have decapitated the command and control for the military forces,’.’
      • ‘The commonly held belief among activists is that Canada, as an exporter of GM food and opponent of the Biosafety Protocol, deliberately tried to decapitate the anti-GM bloc.’
      • ‘They twice attempted to decapitate the legitimate, democratically elected UK government.’
      • ‘We were led to believe that they were going to decapitate the army, decapitate the bureaucracy, put in a new regime relatively quickly and we would be out relatively quickly.’
      • ‘Sendero Luminoso has been decapitated, its leader Abimael Guzman is behind bars.’
      • ‘The result is a highly decentralized, cellular, insular network of enemies that cannot be decapitated or stopped by the excision of a single cell.’
      • ‘The problem, though, is that you're not going to decapitate an organization like JI.’
      • ‘Conservative MPs have most immediate reason to be alarmed by further advances for the Lib Dems, especially when it is coupled with an attempt to decapitate leading members of the shadow cabinet.’
      • ‘But I do see a clear pattern - a White House trying to decapitate another news organization.’


Early 17th century: from late Latin decapitat- ‘decapitated’, from the verb decapitare, from de- (expressing removal) + caput, capit- ‘head’.