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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).
Origin of impale
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 impalement
Historical Examples
  • The methods of marshalling are dimidiation, impalement, quartering, superimposition.

    A Complete Guide to Heraldry Arthur Charles Fox-Davies
  • Chiefest of all, the impalement of the old Raimondi on Marta's knife.

    A Likely Story William De Morgan
  • He resented the confinement of the dinner-table, the impalement of the ball-room, the imprisonment of the pew.

    Lavengro George Borrow
  • Kniaz Dimitri Shaferov expiated his real or imputed crimes by a slow death by impalement.

  • Hoping this amount of impalement will be satisfactory, I go on to something else.

  • To be found there was death—were I the highest in the nation—death by impalement, or some other form of lingering torment.

    The Induna's Wife Bertram Mitford
  • Then the king in a rage, supposing he had concealed his son, had him put to death by impalement as a thief.

    The Kath Sarit Sgara Somadeva Bhatta
  • It is a bold creature—often beats off the lion, or kills him by impalement on its long bayonet-like horns.

    The Young Yagers Mayne Reid
  • But impalement as we now know it was preceded by dimidiation.

    A Complete Guide to Heraldry Arthur Charles Fox-Davies
  • Follow me close; you might lose yourself in this pleasant labyrinth, and it is death, my friend—by impalement too!

    Sarchedon G. J. (George John) Whyte-Melville
British Dictionary definitions for impalement


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 impalement

1590s, from French empalement, from empaler (see impale).



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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