[kan-uh-buh-liz-uh m]


the eating of human flesh by another human being.
the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of its own kind.
the ceremonial eating of human flesh or parts of the human body for magical or religious purposes, as to acquire the power or skill of a person recently killed.
the act of pecking flesh from a live fowl by a member of the same flock.
the removal of parts, equipment, assets, or employees from one product, item, or business in order to use them in another.
the acquisition and absorption of smaller companies by a large corporation or conglomerate.

Origin of cannibalism

First recorded in 1790–1800; cannibal + -ism
Related formscan·ni·bal·is·tic, adjectivecan·ni·bal·is·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·can·ni·bal·is·tic, adjectivenon·can·ni·bal·is·ti·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for cannibalistic

primitive, savage

Examples from the Web for cannibalistic

Contemporary Examples of cannibalistic

  • She was chatty and casual, and expressed her abstract concern that American democracy is on a cannibalistic downward slide.

    The Daily Beast logo
    In Houston, an NRA Victory Lap

    Michael Ames

    May 4, 2013

Historical Examples of cannibalistic

  • At the cannibalistic comparison, Schomberg muttered a faint, sickly "don't."


    Joseph Conrad

  • Do not think them so cannibalistic as report has it, my dears.

    Polly's Business Venture

    Lillian Elizabeth Roy

  • Larry said that he didnt know but it was cannibalistic to eat so many hearts.

    Betty Lee, Senior

    Harriet Pyne Grove

  • There is first their cannibalistic propensity to be reckoned with.


    Cecil Warburton

  • Often they were cannibalistic, boiling their victims in huge clay kettles.

British Dictionary definitions for cannibalistic



the act of eating human flesh or the flesh of one's own kind
savage and inhuman cruelty
Derived Formscannibalistic, adjectivecannibalistically, adverb
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 cannibalistic

1846, from cannibal + -istic. Elder but failing to flourish were cannibalic, cannibalish (both from 1824).



1796, from cannibal + -ism. Perhaps from French cannibalisme, from the same year.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper