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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
2A person in command of a whaling boat.
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