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See more synonyms for cannibalize on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), can·ni·bal·ized, can·ni·bal·iz·ing.
  1. to subject to cannibalism.
  2. 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.
  3. to cut into; cause to become reduced; diminish: New products introduced in the next six months will cannibalize sales from established lines.
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verb (used without object), can·ni·bal·ized, can·ni·bal·iz·ing.
  1. to act cannibalistically; practice cannibalism.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for cannibalize

dismantle, disassemble

Examples from the Web for cannibalize

Contemporary Examples of cannibalize

Historical Examples of cannibalize

British Dictionary definitions for cannibalize



  1. (tr) to use (serviceable parts from one machine or vehicle) to repair another, esp as an alternative to using new parts
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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper