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.
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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for impaler

Contemporary Examples of impaler

  • Next door in Romania, a historical figure nicknamed Vlad the Impaler inspired the first mainstream depiction of a vampire.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Bulgaria’s Vampire Graveyards

    Nina Strochlic

    October 15, 2014

British Dictionary definitions for impaler



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
Derived Formsimpalement or empalement, nounimpaler or empaler, noun

Word Origin for impale

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 impaler



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper