adjective Slang.

Origin of killer

First recorded in 1525–35; kill1 + -er1
Related formsself-kill·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for killer

Contemporary Examples of killer

Historical Examples of killer

  • And that minute he turned me from a scared kid into an outlaw—a killer.

  • In this nice, well-ordered age I'm a killer and everybody knows it.

    Measure for a Loner

    James Judson Harmon

  • He had come from Trinidad, Colorado, and brought with him the reputation of a killer.

    Oh, You Tex!

    William Macleod Raine

  • What do you reckon a killer like Overstreet cares for the law?

    Oh, You Tex!

    William Macleod Raine

  • Lad, even a kid like you could be a killer with that six-gun.

British Dictionary definitions for killer



  1. a person or animal that kills, esp habitually
  2. (as modifier)a killer shark
something, esp a task or activity, that is particularly taxing or exhausting
Australian and NZ an animal selected to be slaughtered for food
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 killer

late 15c., agent noun from kill (v.). But a surname, Ric[hard] Le Kyller is attested from 1288. Figurative use from 1550s. Meaning "impressive person or thing" is by 1900 (as an adjective, 1979); reduplicated form killer-diller attested by 1938. Killer whale is from 1725; killer instinct is attested from 1931, originally in boxing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper