• synonyms


verb (used with object), mu·ti·lat·ed, mu·ti·lat·ing.
  1. to injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts: Vandals mutilated the painting.
  2. to deprive (a person or animal) of a limb or other essential part.
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Origin of mutilate

1525–35; < Latin mutilātus (past participle of mutilāre to cut off, maim), equivalent to mutil(us) maimed, mutilated + -ātus -ate1
Related formsmu·ti·la·tion, nounmu·ti·la·tive, mu·ti·la·to·ry [myoot-l-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈmyut l əˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjectivemu·ti·la·tor, nounself-mu·ti·lat·ing, adjectiveself-mu·ti·la·tion, nounun·mu·ti·lat·ed, adjectiveun·mu·ti·la·tive, adjective

Synonyms for mutilate

1. damage, mar, cripple. 2. See maim.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for self-mutilation

Historical Examples of self-mutilation

  • Some species, too, have the peculiar habit of self-mutilation.

    Elementary Zoology, Second Edition

    Vernon L. Kellogg

  • This self-mutilation is believed to produce the desired result.

  • XI, recounts Pomponio's self-mutilation in order to effect his escape.

    Old Mission Stories of California

    Charles Franklin Carter

  • There are some sacrifices which partake of the nature of self-mutilation.

  • Obscure Greek cults practised similar disciplines even to the extent of self-mutilation.

British Dictionary definitions for self-mutilation


  1. the act or an instance of mutilating oneself
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verb (tr)
  1. to deprive of a limb, essential part, etc; maim; dismember
  2. to mar, expurgate, or damage (a text, book, etc)
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Derived Formsmutilation, nounmutilative, adjectivemutilator, noun

Word Origin for mutilate

C16: from Latin mutilāre to cut off; related to mutilus maimed
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 self-mutilation



1530s, of things; 1560s, of persons; from Latin mutilatus, past participle of mutilare "to cut off, lop off, cut short; maim, mutilate," from mutilus "maimed" (see mutilation). Technically, to deprive of some principal part, especially by cutting off. Related: Mutilated; mutilating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper