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behead

[bih-hed] /bɪˈhɛd/
verb (used with object)
1.
to cut off the head of; kill or execute by decapitation.
2.
Geology. (of a pirate stream) to divert the headwaters of (a river, stream, etc.).
Origin
1000
before 1000; Middle English behe(f)den, beheveden, Old English behēafdian. See be-, head
Related forms
beheadal, noun
beheader, noun
unbeheaded, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for beheading
  • The poem revolves around two games an exchange of beheading and an exchange of winnings.
  • Some hostages are released whilst others are killed, sometimes by beheading.
British Dictionary definitions for beheading

behead

/bɪˈhɛd/
verb
1.
(transitive) to remove the head from; decapitate
Word Origin
Old English behēafdian, from be- + heafodhead; related to Middle High German behoubeten
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 beheading

behead

v.

Old English beheafdian, from be-, here with privative force, + heafod (see head (n.)). Related: Beheaded; beheading.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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beheading in the Bible

a method of taking away life practised among the Egyptians (Gen. 40:17-19). There are instances of this mode of punishment also among the Hebrews (2 Sam. 4:8; 20:21,22; 2 Kings 10:6-8). It is also mentioned in the New Testament (Matt. 14:8-12; Acts 12:2).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Article for beheading

a mode of executing capital punishment by which the head is severed from the body. The ancient Greeks and Romans regarded it as a most honourable form of death. Before execution the criminal was tied to a stake and whipped with rods. In early times an ax was used, but later a sword, which was considered a more honourable instrument of death, was used for Roman citizens. Ritual decapitation known as seppuku was practiced in Japan from the 15th through the 19th century. One symbolic consequence of the French Revolution was the extension of the privilege of beheading to criminals of ordinary birth, by means of the guillotine.

Learn more about beheading with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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