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[im-peyl] /ɪmˈpeɪl/
verb (used with object), impaled, impaling.
to fasten, stick, or fix upon a sharpened stake or the like.
to pierce with a sharpened stake thrust up through the body, as for torture or punishment.
to fix upon, or pierce through with, anything pointed.
to make helpless as if pierced through.
Archaic. to enclose with or as if with pales or stakes; fence in; hem in.
  1. to marshal (two coats of arms, as the family arms of a husband and wife) on an escutcheon party per pale.
  2. (of a coat of arms) to be combined with (another coat of arms) in this way.
Also, empale (for defs 1–5).
Origin of impale
1545-55; < Medieval Latin impālāre, equivalent to Latin im- im-1 + pāl(us) pale2 + -ā- thematic vowel + -re infinitive ending
Related forms
impaler, noun
impalement, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impale
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He allowed us to go on without ordering his men to impale us.

    The Red Hand of Ulster George A. Birmingham
  • Nor would he do so if his hobby were to impale human beings.

    The Crooked House

    Brandon Fleming
  • It squealed, shrill with triumph, and the horn swept up to impale him.

    Space Prison Tom Godwin
  • Sir,—Allow me to impale Mr. Dexter on the horns of a dilemma.

    From a Cornish Window Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • It was not difficult for Mr. Davis to impale him upon this plea.

    Robert Toombs Pleasant A. Stovall
  • Or wilt thou nail a man on a cross, or impale him on a stake?

  • How soon you going to drop the pole set up to impale Winthrope?

    Edith and John Franklin S. Farquhar
  • Don't take my track, or you may impale me like a roast pig on a spit.

    Boyhood in Norway Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen
British Dictionary definitions for impale


verb (transitive)
often foll by on, upon, or with. to pierce with a sharp instrument: they impaled his severed head on a spear
(archaic) to enclose with pales or fencing; fence in
(heraldry) to charge (a shield) with two coats of arms placed side by side
Derived Forms
impalement, empalement, noun
impaler, empaler, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin impālāre, from Latin im- (in) + pāluspale²
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 impale

1520s, "to enclose with stakes, fence in," from Middle French empaler and directly from Medieval Latin impalare "to push onto a stake," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (see in- (2)) + Latin palus "a stake, prop, stay; wooden post, pole," from PIE *pak-slo-, from root *pag-/*pak- "to fasten" (see pact). Sense of "pierce with a pointed stake" (as torture or punishment) first recorded 1610s. Related: Impaled; impaling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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