- a device for beheading a person by means of a heavy blade that is dropped between two posts serving as guides: widely used during the French Revolution.
- an instrument for surgically removing the tonsils.
- any of various machines in which a vertical blade between two parallel uprights descends to cut or trim metal, stacks of paper, etc.
- to behead by the guillotine.
- to cut with or as if with a guillotine.
Origin of guillotine
Examples from the Web for guillotine
The main approaches to execution since the guillotine have been hanging, the firing squad, and the electric chair.The Death Penalty’s Gruesome Truth
February 6, 2014
Wasn't the original name of “The Queen is Dead” “Margaret on the Guillotine”?
There was actually a song called “Margaret on the Guillotine.”
Its heart is in the French Revolution, but so is the guillotine.What Is Romanticism?
September 25, 2011
From Vampires to the Guillotine: The Dead in European History.The Great College Road Trip
April 8, 2011
He did not quite see the connection between the bon-bons and the guillotine.Night and Morning, Complete
It was now half-past three, and the guillotine was nearly ready.The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete
You know it is a capital crime, to mourn for, or sympathise with, a victim of the Guillotine.A Tale of Two Cities
Not merely the cannons and rifles, but even the guillotine and the gallows were at rest.Freeland
It was his fate to escape the gallows in England and the guillotine in France.Shelley, Godwin and Their Circle
H. N. Brailsford
- a device for beheading persons, consisting of a weighted blade set between two upright posts
- the guillotineexecution by this instrument
- a device for cutting or trimming sheet material, such as paper or sheet metal, consisting of a blade inclined at a small angle that descends onto the sheet
- a surgical instrument for removing tonsils, growths in the throat, etc
- Also called: closure by compartment (in Parliament, etc) a form of closure under which a bill is divided into compartments, groups of which must be completely dealt with each day
- to behead (a person) by guillotine
- (in Parliament, etc) to limit debate on (a bill, motion, etc) by the guillotine
Word Origin and History for guillotine
"The name of the machine in which the axe descends in grooves from a considerable height so that the stroke is certain and the head instantly severed from the body." ["Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure," January 1793], 1791, from French guillotine, named in recognition of French physician Joseph Guillotin (1738-1814), who as deputy to the National Assembly (1789) proposed, for humanitarian and efficiency reasons, that capital punishment be carried out by beheading quickly and cleanly on a machine, which was built in 1791 and first used the next year. The verb is first attested 1794. Related: Guillotined; guillotining.
- A ring-shaped instrument with a sliding knifeblade running through it, used in cutting off an enlarged tonsil.