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[dih-kap-i-teyt] /dɪˈkæp ɪˌteɪt/
verb (used with object), decapitated, decapitating.
to cut off the head of; behead:
Many people were decapitated during the French Revolution.
Origin of decapitate
1605-15; < Late Latin dēcapitātus, past participle of dēcapitāre, equivalent to dē- de- + capit- (stem of caput) head + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
decapitation, noun
decapitator, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for decapitation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Sometimes, in cases of capital punishment, decapitation was performed by degrees!

    The Pirate City R.M. Ballantyne
  • It is true this might be done physically after decapitation, but it could not be done morally.

    The Monikins J. Fenimore Cooper
  • The manner of it was decapitation, the instrument a mowing machine.

  • The price of contumacy was outlawry, and decapitation between the two columns.

    Venice and its Story Thomas Okey
  • The shocking custom of decapitation owes its origin to superstition.

    The Human Race Louis Figuier
British Dictionary definitions for decapitation


(transitive) to behead
Derived Forms
decapitation, noun
decapitator, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin dēcapitāre, from Latin de- + caput head
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 decapitation

1640s, from French décapitation, from Medieval Latin decapitationem (nominative decapitatio), noun of action from past participle stem of Late Latin decapitare (see decapitate).



1610s, from French décapiter (14c.), from Late Latin decapitatus past participle of decapitare, from Latin de- "off" (see de-) + caput (genitive capitis) "head" (see capitulum). Related: Decapitated; decapitating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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decapitation in Medicine

decapitation de·cap·i·ta·tion (dĭ-kāp'ĭ-tā'shən)
The removal of a head, as of an animal, a fetus, or a bone.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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