verb (used with object), de·cap·i·tat·ed, de·cap·i·tat·ing.

to cut off the head of; behead: Many people were decapitated during the French Revolution.

Origin of decapitate

1605–15; < Late Latin dēcapitātus, past participle of dēcapitāre, equivalent to dē- de- + capit- (stem of caput) head + -ātus -ate1
Related formsde·cap·i·ta·tion, nounde·cap·i·ta·tor, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for decapitate

guillotine, ax, execute, decollate

Examples from the Web for decapitate

Contemporary Examples of decapitate

Historical Examples of decapitate

  • But when they have been tried and they have failed, decapitate them.

    Vittoria, Complete

    George Meredith

  • The censor can decapitate ideas which but for him might have lived forever.

    Pieces of Hate

    Heywood Broun

  • Good policy, perhaps; but it is better to corrupt than to decapitate.

  • Renata continued to pick violets, and Max to decapitate those he could find.

  • This cannibal trophy is not a sign of barbarous customs: the Bee does not decapitate Ants to adorn her hut.

British Dictionary definitions for decapitate



(tr) to behead
Derived Formsdecapitation, noundecapitator, noun

Word Origin for decapitate

C17: from Late Latin dēcapitāre, from Latin de- + caput head
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 decapitate

1610s, from French décapiter (14c.), from Late Latin decapitatus past participle of decapitare, from Latin de- "off" (see de-) + caput (genitive capitis) "head" (see capitulum). Related: Decapitated; decapitating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper