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[kan-uh-buh-lahyz] /ˈkæn ə bəˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), cannibalized, cannibalizing.
to subject to cannibalism.
to remove parts, equipment, assets, employees, etc., from (an item, product, or business) in order to use them in another:
to cannibalize old airplanes for replacement parts.
to cut into; cause to become reduced; diminish:
New products introduced in the next six months will cannibalize sales from established lines.
verb (used without object), cannibalized, cannibalizing.
to act cannibalistically; practice cannibalism.
Also, especially British, cannibalise.
Origin of cannibalize
1940-45; cannibal + -ize
Related forms
cannibalization, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cannibalization
  • Chilling tales of shipwreck, starvation and cannibalization were the staple conversation of sailors.
  • But new research shows that cellular self-cannibalization can also play a role in fighting cancer.
  • The strategy presents a fair amount of cannibalization risk.
  • The draw day concern relates, in part, to cannibalization of in-state lotto games.
  • cannibalization and interchangeability of parts of the same manufacturer minimizes disruption to post operations.
  • These pulses of coarse-grained sediment resulted from river channel incision and delta cannibalization.
  • Careful review of surface, air, and submarine cannibalization shows no overall adverse trend.
  • Despite cannibalization of parts and equipment, and rust at the base, the complex shows no serious weather damage.
British Dictionary definitions for cannibalization


(transitive) to use (serviceable parts from one machine or vehicle) to repair another, esp as an alternative to using new parts
Derived Forms
cannibalization, cannibalisation, noun
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 cannibalization

by 1907, noun of action from cannibalize.



1798 (in Burke's memoirs), figurative, and meaning "be perverted into cannibalism," from cannibal + -ize. Meaning "take parts from one construction and use them in another" is from 1943, originally of military equipment. Related: Cannibalized; cannibalizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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