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  1. a retail or wholesale dealer in meat.
  2. a person who slaughters certain animals, or who dresses the flesh of animals, fish, or poultry, for food or market.
  3. a person guilty of brutal or indiscriminate slaughter or murder.
  4. a vendor who hawks newspapers, candy, beverages, etc., as on a train, at a stadium, etc.
verb (used with object)
  1. to slaughter or dress (animals, fish, or poultry) for market.
  2. to kill indiscriminately or brutally.
  3. to bungle; botch: to butcher a job.

Origin of butcher

1250–1300; Middle English bocher < Anglo-French; Old French bo(u)chier, equivalent to bo(u)c he-goat (< Gaulish *bucco-; compare Old Irish boc, Welsh bwch; akin to buck1) + -ier -ier2 (see -er2)
Related formsbutch·er·er, nounun·butch·ered, adjective

Synonyms for butcher

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3. killer, cutthroat. 5, 6. See slaughter.


[boo ch]
  1. butch haircut.
  2. Slang. a lesbian, especially one notably masculine in manner or appearance.
  1. Slang.
    1. (of a girl or woman) having traits of personality, dress, behavior, or appearance usually associated with males.
    2. (of a male) decidedly or exaggeratedly masculine in manner or appearance.

Origin of butch

First recorded in 1940–45; apparently from the proper name
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for butcher


  1. a retailer of meat
  2. a person who slaughters or dresses meat for market
  3. an indiscriminate or brutal murderer
  4. a person who destroys, ruins, or bungles something
verb (tr)
  1. to slaughter or dress (animals) for meat
  2. to kill indiscriminately or brutally
  3. to make a mess of; botch; ruin

Word Origin for butcher

C13: from Old French bouchier, from bouc he-goat, probably of Celtic origin; see buck 1; compare Welsh bwch he-goat


  1. (of a woman or man) markedly or aggressively masculine
  1. a lesbian who is noticeably masculine
  2. a strong rugged man

Word Origin for butch

C18: back formation from butcher
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 butcher

c.1300, from Anglo-French boucher, from Old French bochier "butcher, executioner" (12c., Modern French boucher), probably literally "slaughterer of goats," from bouc "male goat," from Frankish *bukk or some other Germanic source (see buck (n.1)) or Celtic *bukkos "he-goat." Figurative sense of "brutal murderer" is attested from 1520s. Butcher-knife attested from 18c. Related: Butcherly.


1560s, from butcher (n.). Related: Butchered; butchering. Re-nouned 1640s as butcherer.



"tough youth," 1902, first attested in nickname of U.S. outlaw George Cassidy (1866-?), probably an abbreviation of butcher (n.). Sense of "aggressive lesbian" is 1940s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper