[ kil ]
See synonyms for kill on
verb (used with object)
  1. to deprive of life in any manner; cause the death of; slay.

  2. to destroy; extinguish; do away with: His response killed our hopes.

  1. to destroy or neutralize the active qualities of: to kill an odor.

  2. to spoil the effect of: His extra brushwork killed the painting.

  3. to cause (time) to be consumed with seeming rapidity or with a minimum of boredom, especially by engaging in some easy activity or amusement of passing interest: I had to kill three hours before plane time.

  4. to spend (time) unprofitably: He killed ten good years on that job.

  5. Informal. to overcome completely or with irresistible effect: That comedian kills me.

  6. to muffle or deaden: This carpet kills the sound of footsteps.

  7. Informal. to cause distress or discomfort to: These new shoes are killing me.

  8. Informal. to tire completely; exhaust: The long hike killed us.

  9. Informal. to consume completely: They killed a bottle of bourbon between them.

  10. to cancel publication of (a word, paragraph, item, etc.), especially after it has been set in type.

  11. to defeat or veto (a legislative bill, etc.).

  12. Electricity. to render (a circuit) dead.

  13. to stop the operation of (machinery, engines, etc.): He killed the motor and the car stopped.

  14. Tennis. to hit (a ball) with such force that its return is impossible.

  15. Metallurgy.

    • to deoxidize (steel) before teeming into an ingot mold.

    • to eliminate springiness from (wire or the like).

    • to cold-roll (sheet metal) after final heat treatment in order to eliminate distortion.

  16. Ice Hockey. to prevent the opposing team from scoring in the course of (a penalty being served by a teammate or teammates).

verb (used without object)
  1. to inflict or cause death.

  2. to commit murder.

  1. to be killed.

  2. to overcome completely; produce an irresistible effect: dressed to kill.

  3. Slang. to feel a smarting pain, as from a minor accident; sting: I stubbed my little toe and that really kills.

  1. the act of killing, especially game: The hounds moved in for the kill.

  2. an animal or animals killed.

  1. a number or quantity killed.

  2. an act or instance of hitting or destroying a target, especially an enemy aircraft.

  3. the target so hit or, especially, destroyed.

  4. Sports. kill shot.

Verb Phrases
  1. kill off,

    • to destroy completely; kill, especially successively or indiscriminately: The invaders killed off all the inhabitants of the town.

    • Informal. to extinguish; eliminate: The bus ride every day kills off all of my energy.

Idioms about kill

  1. kill with kindness, to overdo in one's efforts to be kind: The aunts would kill their nephews and nieces with kindness.

Origin of kill

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English cullen, killen, kelle “to strike, beat, kill,” Old English cyllan (unattested); cognate with dialectal German küllen (Westphalian). Cf. quell

synonym study For kill

1. Kill, execute, murder all mean to deprive of life. Kill is the general word, with no implication of the manner of killing, the agent or cause, or the nature of what is killed (whether human being, animal, or plant): to kill a person. Execute is used with reference to the putting to death of one in accordance with a legal sentence, no matter what the means are: to execute a criminal. Murder is used of killing a human being unlawfully: He murdered him for his money.

Other words for kill

Other words from kill

  • kill·a·ble, adjective
  • self-killed, adjective
  • un·killed, adjective

Words that may be confused with kill

Words Nearby kill

Other definitions for kill (2 of 2)

[ kil ]

nounChiefly New York State.
  1. a channel; creek; stream; river: used especially in placenames: Kill Van Kull.

Origin of kill

An Americanism first recorded in 1660–70; from Dutch kil, Middle Dutch kille “channel” Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use kill in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for kill (1 of 2)


/ (kɪl) /

verb(mainly tr)
  1. (also intr; when tr, sometimes foll by off) to cause the death of (a person or animal)

  2. to put an end to; destroy: to kill someone's interest

  1. to make (time) pass quickly, esp while waiting for something

  2. to deaden (sound)

  3. informal to tire out; exhaust: the effort killed him

  4. informal to cause to suffer pain or discomfort: my shoes are killing me

  5. informal to cancel, cut, or delete: to kill three lines of text

  6. informal to quash, defeat, or veto: the bill was killed in the House of Lords

  7. informal to switch off; stop: to kill a motor

  8. (also intr) informal to overcome with attraction, laughter, surprise, etc: she was dressed to kill; his gags kill me

  9. slang to consume (alcoholic drink) entirely: he killed three bottles of rum

  10. sport to hit (a ball) so hard or so accurately that the opponent cannot return it

  11. soccer to bring (a moving ball) under control; trap

  12. kill oneself informal to overexert oneself: don't kill yourself

  13. kill two birds with one stone to achieve two results with one action

  1. the act of causing death, esp at the end of a hunt, bullfight, etc

  2. the animal or animals killed during a hunt

  1. NZ the seasonal tally of stock slaughtered at a freezing works

  2. the destruction of a battleship, tank, etc

  3. in at the kill present at the end or climax of some undertaking

Origin of kill

C13 cullen; perhaps related to Old English cwellan to kill; compare German (Westphalian dialect) küllen; see quell

British Dictionary definitions for kill (2 of 2)


/ (kɪl) /

  1. US a channel, stream, or river (chiefly as part of place names)

Origin of kill

C17: from Middle Dutch kille; compare Old Norse kīll small bay, creek

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with kill


In addition to the idioms beginning with kill

  • kill off
  • kill or cure
  • kill the fatted calf
  • kill the goose that lays the golden eggs
  • kill time
  • kill two birds with one stone
  • kill with kindness

also see:

  • curiosity killed the cat
  • dressed to kill
  • fit to kill
  • in at the death (kill)
  • make a killing

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.