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electrocute

[ih-lek-truh-kyoot]
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verb (used with object), e·lec·tro·cut·ed, e·lec·tro·cut·ing.
  1. to kill by electricity.
  2. to execute (a criminal) by electricity, as in an electric chair.
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Origin of electrocute

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90; electro- + (exe)cute
Related formse·lec·tro·cu·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for electrocution

electrocute

verb (tr)
  1. to kill as a result of an electric shock
  2. US to execute in the electric chair
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Derived Formselectrocution, noun

Word Origin

C19: from electro- + (exe)cute
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

Word Origin and History for electrocution

n.

1890; see electrocute + -ion. Meaning "any death by electricity" is from 1940.

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electrocute

v.

"execute by electricity," 1889, American English, from electro- + back half of execute. The method first was used Aug. 6, 1890, in New York state, on William Kemmler, convicted of the murder of his common-law wife. Sense involving accidental death is first recorded 1909. Electric chair is also first recorded 1889, which is when the first one was introduced in New York state as a humane alternative to hanging. Related: Electrocuted; electrocuting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper