[ kan-uh-buh-lahyz ]
/ ˈkæn ə bəˌlaɪz /

verb (used with object), can·ni·bal·ized, can·ni·bal·iz·ing.

to subject to cannibalism.
to remove parts, equipment, assets, employees, etc., from (an item, product, or business) in order to use them in another: to cannibalize old airplanes for replacement parts.
to cut into; cause to become reduced; diminish: New products introduced in the next six months will cannibalize sales from established lines.

verb (used without object), can·ni·bal·ized, can·ni·bal·iz·ing.

to act cannibalistically; practice cannibalism.


Also especially British, can·ni·bal·ise.

Origin of cannibalize

First recorded in 1940–45; cannibal + -ize
Related formscan·ni·bal·i·za·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cannibalize

British Dictionary definitions for cannibalize



/ (ˈkænɪbəˌlaɪz) /


(tr) to use (serviceable parts from one machine or vehicle) to repair another, esp as an alternative to using new parts
Derived Formscannibalization or cannibalisation, noun
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 cannibalize



1798 (in Burke's memoirs), figurative, and meaning "be perverted into cannibalism," from cannibal + -ize. Meaning "take parts from one construction and use them in another" is from 1943, originally of military equipment. Related: Cannibalized; cannibalizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper