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[kan-uh-buh l] /ˈkæn ə bəl/
a person who eats human flesh, especially for magical or religious purposes, as among certain tribal peoples.
any animal that eats its own kind.
pertaining to or characteristic of a cannibal.
given to cannibalism.
1545-55; < Spanish caníbal, variant of caríbal, equivalent to canib-, carib- (< Arawak) + -al -al1; from the belief that the Caribs of the West Indies ate human flesh
Related forms
cannibally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cannibal
  • After all, they were less human and more remote than our cannibal ancestors of three or four thousand years ago.
  • Jaded educators with intellectual knives are such clever cannibal cooks.
  • If someone wants to be called a vegan cannibal, that's all well and good.
British Dictionary definitions for cannibal


  1. a person who eats the flesh of other human beings
  2. (as modifier): cannibal tribes
an animal that feeds on the flesh of others of its kind
Word Origin
C16: from Spanish Canibales, name used by Columbus to designate the Caribs of Cuba and Haiti, from Arawak caniba, variant of Carib
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
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Word Origin and History for cannibal

"human that eats human flesh," 1550s, from Spanish canibal, caribal "a savage, cannibal," from Caniba, Christopher Columbus' rendition of the Caribs' name for themselves (see Caribbean). The natives were believed to be anthropophagites. Columbus, seeking evidence that he was in Asia, thought the name meant the natives were subjects of the Great Khan. Shakespeare's Caliban (in "The Tempest") is from a version of this word, with -n- and -l- interchanged, found in Hakluyt's "Voyages" (1599). The Spanish word had reached French by 1515. Used of animals from 1796. An Old English word for "cannibal" was selfæta.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for cannibal



Do you understand?: All right, class, that's all there is to it. Capeesh?/I owe it all to you. Strip Dealers School, capiche?/Sam fixed me with a pair of very cold eyes. ''Capish?'' he said


I understand: Ten tonight? Capeesh.

[1940s+; fr Italian capisci, ''Do you understand?'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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