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[im-peyl] /ɪmˈpeɪl/
verb (used with object), impaled, impaling.
to fasten, stick, or fix upon a sharpened stake or the like.
to pierce with a sharpened stake thrust up through the body, as for torture or punishment.
to fix upon, or pierce through with, anything pointed.
to make helpless as if pierced through.
Archaic. to enclose with or as if with pales or stakes; fence in; hem in.
  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).
1545-55; < Medieval Latin impālāre, equivalent to Latin im- im-1 + pāl(us) pale2 + -ā- thematic vowel + -re infinitive ending
Related forms
impaler, noun
impalement, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for impaled
  • We seem, once again, to be impaled upon a conflict between elitism and democracy.
  • The heroes' main purpose is to look surprised when they're impaled by a garden implement.
  • These are tormenting dilemmas upon which mankind has throughout its history been so frequently impaled.
  • Random souls wail and moan as they reach through the walls seeking help, while bodies sit impaled through giant spikes.
  • And you could see birds that were impaled on the stubble.
  • Also a tremendous rib-piece was roasting before the fire, being impaled on an upright stake forced in and out between the ribs.
  • The pods are impaled on a long pin and encased in a thin film of crunchy sugar.
  • These are the tormenting dilemmas upon which mankind has throughout its history been so frequently impaled.
  • When impaled with electrodes, these cells did not produce a crackle of electric pulses.
  • Expect a big surprise today when you wind up with your head impaled upon a stake.
British Dictionary definitions for impaled


verb (transitive)
often foll by on, upon, or with. to pierce with a sharp instrument: they impaled his severed head on a spear
(archaic) to enclose with pales or fencing; fence in
(heraldry) to charge (a shield) with two coats of arms placed side by side
Derived Forms
impalement, empalement, noun
impaler, empaler, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin impālāre, from Latin im- (in) + pāluspale²
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 impaled



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
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