Definition of behead in US English:



  • Cut off the head of (someone), especially as a form of execution.

    ‘the king was beheaded’
    • ‘A garter ribbon worn by King Charles I on the day he was beheaded was sold for £4,400 yesterday.’
    • ‘Within three years he had tired of Anne Boleyn and she was beheaded in 1536, accused of treason and adultery.’
    • ‘People were beheaded and killed during the last five weeks of the war.’
    • ‘In several of these areas, insurgents have killed election officials and threatened to behead anyone who votes.’
    • ‘His father was beheaded simply because he happened to be the head of a religious body.’
    • ‘Charles I was beheaded in January 1649 and in May of that year Brouncker's mother died.’
    • ‘On 30 January 1649 the King was beheaded in front of a huge crowd at Whitehall.’
    • ‘His explanations that he was trying to steer the rising were brushed aside and he was beheaded on Tower Hill in June 1537.’
    • ‘Militants threatened to behead him unless their demand was met.’
    • ‘They hold hands as the line in front of them thins, as the prisoners are beheaded one by one.’
    decapitate, cut off the head of, guillotine
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Old English behēafdian; from be- ‘off’ (expressing removal) + hēafod (see head).