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[kan-uh-buh-liz-uh m] /ˈkæn ə bəˌlɪz əm/
the eating of human flesh by another human being.
the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of its own kind.
the ceremonial eating of human flesh or parts of the human body for magical or religious purposes, as to acquire the power or skill of a person recently killed.
the act of pecking flesh from a live fowl by a member of the same flock.
the removal of parts, equipment, assets, or employees from one product, item, or business in order to use them in another.
the acquisition and absorption of smaller companies by a large corporation or conglomerate.
Origin of cannibalism
First recorded in 1790-1800; cannibal + -ism
Related forms
cannibalistic, adjective
cannibalistically, adverb
noncannibalistic, adjective
noncannibalistically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cannibalistic
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At the cannibalistic comparison, Schomberg muttered a faint, sickly "don't."

    Victory Joseph Conrad
  • Do not think them so cannibalistic as report has it, my dears.

    Polly's Business Venture

    Lillian Elizabeth Roy
  • Larry said that he didnt know but it was cannibalistic to eat so many hearts.

    Betty Lee, Senior

    Harriet Pyne Grove
  • There is first their cannibalistic propensity to be reckoned with.

    Spiders Cecil Warburton
  • Often they were cannibalistic, boiling their victims in huge clay kettles.

    Lost in the Wilds of Brazil

    James H. Foster
  • The nemerteans are carnivorous, voracious, and often cannibalistic.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • Both were victims of the cannibalistic residents of the coast.

    The Land of Tomorrow William B Stephenson, Jr.
  • He gives in detail their slave-making and cannibalistic tendencies.

    The Century of Columbus James J. Walsh
  • Surely no animal could be more uncivilised or cannibalistic in its desires than man!

British Dictionary definitions for cannibalistic


the act of eating human flesh or the flesh of one's own kind
savage and inhuman cruelty
Derived Forms
cannibalistic, adjective
cannibalistically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cannibalistic

1846, from cannibal + -istic. Elder but failing to flourish were cannibalic, cannibalish (both from 1824).



1796, from cannibal + -ism. Perhaps from French cannibalisme, from the same year.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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