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impale

[im-peyl]
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verb (used with object), im·paled, im·pal·ing.
  1. to fasten, stick, or fix upon a sharpened stake or the like.
  2. to pierce with a sharpened stake thrust up through the body, as for torture or punishment.
  3. to fix upon, or pierce through with, anything pointed.
  4. to make helpless as if pierced through.
  5. Archaic. to enclose with or as if with pales or stakes; fence in; hem in.
  6. Heraldry.
    1. to marshal (two coats of arms, as the family arms of a husband and wife) on an escutcheon party per pale.
    2. (of a coat of arms) to be combined with (another coat of arms) in this way.
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Also empale (for defs 1–5).

Origin of impale

1545–55; < Medieval Latin impālāre, equivalent to Latin im- im-1 + pāl(us) pale2 + -ā- thematic vowel + -re infinitive ending
Related formsim·pal·er, nounim·pale·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

prick, transfix, lance, pierce, spear, punch, stick, puncture, spike, skewer, perforate, skiver

Examples from the Web for impale

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He allowed us to go on without ordering his men to impale us.

    The Red Hand of Ulster

    George A. Birmingham

  • Nor would he do so if his hobby were to impale human beings.

    The Crooked House

    Brandon Fleming

  • It squealed, shrill with triumph, and the horn swept up to impale him.

    Space Prison

    Tom Godwin

  • Sir,—Allow me to impale Mr. Dexter on the horns of a dilemma.

    From a Cornish Window

    Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

  • It was not difficult for Mr. Davis to impale him upon this plea.

    Robert Toombs

    Pleasant A. Stovall


British Dictionary definitions for impale

impale

empale

verb (tr)
  1. (often foll by on, upon, or with) to pierce with a sharp instrumentthey impaled his severed head on a spear
  2. archaic to enclose with pales or fencing; fence in
  3. heraldry to charge (a shield) with two coats of arms placed side by side
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Derived Formsimpalement or empalement, nounimpaler or empaler, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Medieval Latin impālāre, from Latin im- (in) + pālus pale ²
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 impale

v.

1520s, "to enclose with stakes, fence in," from Middle French empaler and directly from Medieval Latin impalare "to push onto a stake," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (see in- (2)) + Latin palus "a stake, prop, stay; wooden post, pole," from PIE *pak-slo-, from root *pag-/*pak- "to fasten" (see pact). Sense of "pierce with a pointed stake" (as torture or punishment) first recorded 1610s. Related: Impaled; impaling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper