One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A man who was responsible for beheading condemned prisoners.
- ‘With the braggart dash and swagger of the soldiers of fortune amongst whom Deutsch had served, the headsman presents the Baptist's head with exaggerated courtliness to Salome.’
- ‘Mounting a stage before a roaring fire, she spent her last moments in great dignity, only to die at the hands of an incompetent headsman who missed her neck with his first stroke.’
- ‘Monmouth himself was captured, and executed by a headsman who botched his job.’
- ‘It is admirable that you accept a male paramoor in your household, but still, I would have been more stalwart and given the creature up to the headsmen.’
- ‘Set in the 16th century, it shows us the romantic life of a headsman, that is, the executioner who must chop people's heads off when they misbehave.’
2A person in command of a whaling boat.
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