verb (used with object)

to cut off the head of; kill or execute by decapitation.
Geology. (of a pirate stream) to divert the headwaters of (a river, stream, etc.).

Origin of behead

before 1000; Middle English behe(f)den, beheveden, Old English behēafdian. See be-, head
Related formsbe·head·al, nounbe·head·er, nounun·be·head·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for behead

execute, guillotine, kill, head, neck, decollate

Examples from the Web for behead

Contemporary Examples of behead

Historical Examples of behead

  • There was a Thorpe among the judges who voted to behead him.

    The Market-Place

    Harold Frederic

  • Then they made it appear that they were going to behead Man Sing.

    In the Forbidden Land

    Arnold Henry Savage Landor

  • Therefore, in order to realize the perfection, let us behead them.

  • We could not behead it, as the Tibetans would not trust us with a knife or sword.

    An Explorer's Adventures in Tibet

    A. Henry Savage Landor

  • This is to signify that, as a member of the royal family, he has authority to behead them.

    Modern Persia

    Mooshie G. Daniel

British Dictionary definitions for behead



(tr) to remove the head from; decapitate

Word Origin for behead

Old English behēafdian, from be- + heafod head; related to Middle High German behoubeten
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 behead

Old English beheafdian, from be-, here with privative force, + heafod (see head (n.)). Related: Beheaded; beheading.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper