guillotine[gil′ə tēn′, gē′ə-; for v., also gil′ə tēn′, gē′ə-]
- an instrument for beheading by means of a heavy blade dropped between two grooved uprights
- an instrument, working on a similar principle, as for cutting paper
- Brit. a method of limiting Parliamentary debate on a bill by voting at previously fixed times on specific sections of it
Origin of guillotineFrench after J. I. Guillotin (1738-1814), French physician who advocated its use during the French Revolution in preference to less humane methods
- A device consisting of a heavy blade held aloft between upright guides and dropped to behead a person condemned to die.
- An instrument, such as a paper cutter, similar in action to a guillotine.
transitive verbguil·lo·tined, guil·lo·tin·ing, guil·lo·tines
- To behead with a guillotine.
- To cut with a guillotine or sharp blade.
Origin of guillotineFrench, after Joseph Ignace Guillotin, (1738–1814), French physician. Word History: Ironically, the guillotine—the most notable symbol of the excesses of the French Revolution—was named for a humanitarian physician, Joseph Ignace Guillotin. On October 10, 1789, in a speech given before the French National Constituent Assembly (the legislature that governed France at the time), Guillotin recommended that executions be performed with a beheading device rather than by hanging, the method traditionally used for commoners, or by beheading with the sword, the method traditionally reserved for the nobility. Guillotin argued that beheading by machine was quicker and less painful than the work of the rope and the sword. In 1791 the Assembly did indeed adopt beheading by machine as the state's preferred method of execution. A beheading device designed by Dr. Antoine Louis, secretary of the College of Surgeons, was first used on April 25, 1792, to execute a highwayman. The device was called a louisette or louison after its inventor's name, but because of Guillotin's famous speech, his name became irrevocably associated with the machine. After Guillotin's death in 1814, his children tried unsuccessfully to get the device's name changed. When their efforts failed, they were allowed to change their name instead.
- A machine used for the application of capital punishment by decapitation, consisting of a tall upright frame from which is suspended a heavy diagonal-edged blade.
- A device used for cutting stacks of paper to straight edges, usually by means of a hinged blade attached to a flat platform.
- A cloture; a motion that debate be ended and a vote taken.
(third-person singular simple present guillotines, present participle guillotining, simple past and past participle guillotined)
- To execute, cut or cut short (a person, a stack of paper or a debate) by use of a guillotine.
From French guillotine, after Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, who proposed its use for capital punishment.