Definition of murder in English:



mass noun
  • 1The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.

    ‘the brutal murder of a German holidaymaker’
    ‘he was put on trial for attempted murder’
    • ‘Murders and attempted murders of state officials became almost routine, preoccupying and slowing down state administrators and inviting reprisals or, at least, harsh policies.’
    • ‘What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?’
    • ‘Speaking of murder, remember that not all homicides are murders and that murder carries a specific legal meaning.’
    • ‘Those guns would have been destined to be used in murders, robberies or kidnappings.’
    • ‘While its initial remit was to take on drug gangs, the agency now deals with all forms of major organised crime, helping investigate murders, kidnappings, extortion and robbery.’
    • ‘By the end of the year there were 129 killings, murders, assassinations, crossfire victims, accidents and unexplained deaths.’
    • ‘Where crime is concerned there is a lot of talk about who the criminals are, and where they live, and what is going to be done to reduce the kidnappings, murders and other criminal activities.’
    • ‘Among them were 646 cases of physical assault resulting in injury, and eight attempted murders but no actual murders.’
    • ‘We have laws on murder, but, tragically, we still have murders and killings in this country.’
    • ‘The country has the highest number of murders, rapes, hijackings and violent robberies in the world.’
    • ‘I got so tired of watching the news because of all the kidnappings and rapes and murders and theft that filled that channel and I wanted to help put an end to it.’
    • ‘They argue that even if all those on death row were to be hanged, the killings and murders would still continue, and may very well increase despite the hangings.’
    • ‘Since last June there have been 45 assassinations, 37 kidnappings and nine attempted murders, according to the report.’
    • ‘From muggings to murders, recent crime patterns show citizens returning home from office or an outing late in the night have become soft targets of the men on prowl.’
    • ‘I must emphasise we need to question this man regarding the murder and two attempted murders of police officers in Leeds.’
    • ‘They were involved in numerous murders, assaults, rapes and robberies and if you crossed their path you were unlikely to emerge without a few broken bones.’
    • ‘However, we are not to be forgotten; our voice will be heard as we speak out against the horrendous rapes, kidnappings and murders polluting our paradise.’
    • ‘Its members are unsurpassed at stopping murders, rapes, robberies, burglaries and other violent crimes.’
    • ‘The ring specialised in contract murders, abductions, explosions, racketeering and other terrorist activities.’
    • ‘An epidemic of criminal activities, murders, revenge killings and gang turf battles has resulted.’
    killing, homicide, assassination, liquidation, extermination, execution, slaughter, butchery, massacre
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  • 2informal A very difficult or unpleasant task or experience.

    ‘the 40-mile-per-hour winds at the summit were murder’
    hell, hell on earth, a nightmare, an ordeal, a trial, a difficult experience, a frustrating experience, a unpleasant experience, misery, torture, agony
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  • 3count noun A group of crows.

    ‘a murder of crows flew past the window’
    • ‘Sidney, an impressive looking Harris hawk, decided he was far more interested in a murder of crows resting in nearby fields than the food on offer in his handler's grasp.’
    • ‘She smiles at a small murder of crows, and from one of her many pockets, she tosses them a few chunks of stale bread.’
    • ‘The potential for all kinds of damage hovers in the air like a murder of crows waiting to strike.’
    • ‘This murder of crows was providing a service by dining on the unfortunate fellow; it means I won't have to clean it up during the spring.’
    • ‘We encountered a murder of crows sitting on the road.’
    • ‘When the acorns started to drop I was inclined to clear them up but now the job is being done, rather more effectively, by a small murder of crows which appears each morning to gobble up the overnight harvest.’
    • ‘A murder of crows clamored over the square.’
    • ‘Being mobbed by a murder of crows isn't funny.’
    • ‘I had my ambush thwarted as a murder of crows cawed away.’
    • ‘A group of teens had their planned weekend away ruined when a murder of crows inexplicably smashes into their car, causing them to crash.’


[with object]
  • 1Kill (someone) unlawfully and with premeditation.

    ‘he was accused of murdering his wife's lover’
    • ‘My mother, sister, and other brother had perished of malnutrition, starvation, and illness, and my father had been murdered.’
    • ‘In 2001, a further 43 people were murdered, 32 kidnapped and 219 assaulted.’
    • ‘A young woman in a close ethnic community, who had fallen in love with a Swedish man, was murdered by her father.’
    • ‘He killed and murdered a dozen women the police know of and twenty others we know of.’
    • ‘My father was kidnapped and murdered last year.’
    • ‘Generally, we hold that there's no crime worse than murder, and we punish it more harshly than we do anything else.’
    • ‘The former lover of a pensioner accused of murdering his wife and children 27 years ago said she did not give police vital information because she couldn't believe he would harm anyone.’
    • ‘His family believe that a factor in his disappearance could be the upcoming anniversary of the death of his father, who was murdered 15 years ago by an armed robber.’
    • ‘This confrontation could increase the probability of him becoming angry and murdering or assaulting her.’
    • ‘Police believe the victim may not have even seen the assassin who murdered him with a single shot to the back.’
    • ‘A mother has spoken out against gun crime after seeing the man accused of murdering her son walk free from court.’
    • ‘A cheating husband accused of murdering his wife and children 27 years ago told a jury yesterday: ‘I miss them to this day.’’
    • ‘I want the people who calculatingly and brutally murder others to pay severely for their heinous crimes.’
    • ‘Scientific tests on stains found in the bathroom at the home of a drug addict accused of murdering a pensioner, gave a mixed DNA profile of both the man on trial and the pensioner, a jury heard yesterday.’
    • ‘He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder persons unknown and to possession of weapons and ammunition.’
    • ‘Within weeks, around 500,000 people were brutally murdered or killed in action, mostly by the Hutu army.’
    • ‘Judy thought about if someone had murdered the person who killed her family.’
    • ‘But to this day they too will never know why a seemingly loving husband murdered his wife before killing himself.’
    • ‘Because she was so badly decomposed, police have been unable to tell if she was murdered or killed herself.’
    • ‘He refuses to believe his father has been murdered, instead saying he has probably fled Bradford.’
    kill, do to death, put to death, assassinate, execute, liquidate, eliminate, neutralize, dispatch, butcher, cut to pieces, slaughter, massacre, wipe out, mow down
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  • 2informal Punish severely or be very angry with.

    ‘my father will murder me if I'm home late’
    penalize, discipline, mete out punishment to, bring someone to book, teach someone a lesson, make an example of
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    1. 2.1 Conclusively defeat (an opponent) in a game or sport.
      • ‘Juventus are murdering them in this second half and the home side are making it easy for them.’
      • ‘England are getting murdered in the cricket, by the way.’
      • ‘Mind you, nearly everyone got murdered on that tour.’
      • ‘We had an amazing year, we absolutely murdered everybody and won the league at a canter.’
      • ‘England are getting murdered at the moment… absolutely slaughtered.’
      • ‘You might decide to keep an extra righthanded bat to come off the bench and face him in the ninth because he murders lefties who pinch hit against him.’
      • ‘He said: ‘We should have murdered them on paper, but fortunately we haven't suffered in the longer term.’’
      • ‘Ukraine are absolutely murdering Saudi Arabia, who aren't getting a look-in.’
      beat, conquer, win against, win a victory over, triumph over, prevail over, get the better of, best, worst, vanquish
      trounce, defeat utterly, beat hollow, win a resounding victory over, annihilate, drub, rout, give someone a drubbing, crush, overwhelm, bring someone to their knees
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    2. 2.2 Spoil by lack of skill or knowledge.
      ‘the only thing he had murdered was the English language’
      • ‘They'd have been better off giving it to the cook not to murder the cuisines of countries that have already suffered so much.’
      • ‘The great outdoors murders a fine wine's bouquet and strong-tasting barbecue fare ruins the restrained, delicate flavours of expensive bottles.’
      • ‘But Portofino still lacked its very own song: one that could be murdered nightly in those dolce vita bars and restaurants.’
      spoil, ruin, mar, mutilate, mangle, cut about, mess up, make a mess of, wreck
      bungle, mishandle, mismanage, mess up, make a mess of, botch, spoil, mar, ruin
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    3. 2.3British Consume (food or drink) greedily or with relish.
      ‘I could murder some chips’
      • ‘I am a cakey kind of person - squishy and sweet and sort of sickly after too much - and I could murder a brownie right about now…’
      • ‘Sometimes I could murder a slab of chocolate but I don't.’
      • ‘I mean you wouldn't say, God I'm famished, I could murder a fruit juice.’
      eat up, finish, consume, devour, eat greedily, guzzle, feast on, binge-eat, wolf down, down, bolt
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  • get away with (blue) murder

    • informal Succeed in doing whatever one chooses without being punished or suffering any disadvantage.

      ‘some local authorities are letting estate agents get away with murder’
      • ‘Developers up to now got away with murder and only provided the minimum facilities when they were developing new housing estates.’
      • ‘Like many other people, I believe the banks got away with murder in the past and abused the power they had over the day-today lives of ordinary, decent and hardworking people.’
      • ‘He is going after the people who will never drive on fly-overs and never harm anybody while the joyriders are getting away with blue murder.’
      • ‘He said: ‘Mobile phone operators are getting away with murder because the planning legislation simply is not strict enough.’’
      • ‘A lot of fear is being generated and, at the same time, the banks are getting away with murder.’
      • ‘Since the business started, record companies have been getting away with murder.’
      • ‘He said the council are getting away with murder when it comes to the roads in the area.’
      • ‘People got away with murder in this country, 2000 murders to be exact.’
      • ‘How can any ordinary citizens respect it if the mafia literally gets away with murder, violence, theft and extortion time and time again?’
      • ‘The question I want to put to local people is do you want these individuals walking the streets where you and your family live, do you want them to think they can get away with murder?’
  • murder one (or two)

    • informal First-degree (or second-degree) murder.

      • ‘But it - as all murders, as I understand it, are consider murder two, unless they're upgraded to murder one.’
      • ‘So there's not a murder two or something that we could have switched to.’
      • ‘They took him to the hospital were they were arrested on site for murder one and armed robbery.’
      • ‘Second degree murder is an intentional, not quite murder one with malice and all that stuff, but it is an act that is deliberate.’
      • ‘So that would qualify as murder one, if that's a scenario.’
      • ‘But the jury must come back - in order for it to get to that phase, the jury must come back with a guilty verdict on felony murder or murder one.’
      • ‘The Crown attorney's reasoning for only charging him with manslaughter was that the he's still a young boy, and the judge wouldn't give him murder one.’
  • murder will out

    • Murder cannot remain undetected.

      • ‘The portrait, the idea, Dostoyevsky wants us to take from this book is that even if you can rationalize your own fears away about committing a horrible act like this, even if you can be swayed by every possible slick sophistry, murder will out.’
  • scream (or yell) blue murder

    • informal Make an extravagant and noisy protest.

      ‘if it gets into the papers, she'll be down here screaming blue murder’
      • ‘Her butt was wedged up behind the refrigerator and she was screaming bloody murder.’
      • ‘If you are the defense, you're certainly going to be screaming bloody murder if you ever find out about it.’
      • ‘My personal favourite is the supermarket tantrum, which generally involves junk food, one harassed mother with a teetering shopping cart and a child on the floor screaming blue murder.’
      • ‘The first few times it happened, I screamed blue murder for the nurse, who came and simply opened the clamp, increasing the flow and flushing the blood back into the vein in a wonderfully cold ripply gush.’
      • ‘When they're jumping up and down screaming blue murder about the £250 trainers they Simply Must Have, just shrug and smile serenely (and push the cotton wool deeper into your ears).’
      • ‘She was screaming blue murder and couldn't walk.’
      • ‘He clutched onto the sleeve and yelled blue murder.’
      • ‘As I wrote below, the opposition will bluster and fidget and scream bloody murder.’
      • ‘A two year old who screams bloody murder because he is not allowed to play with a rusty tin can and is witness to a responsible parent saying ‘No’ may be more likely later to resist showing off by driving too fast.’
      • ‘The local news divisions of those stations should scream bloody murder, but there are so few notions of journalistic integrity in local news left that I wouldn't expect much.’


Old English morthor, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch moord and German Mord, from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit mará ‘death’ and Latin mors; reinforced in Middle English by Old French murdre.