guillotine


guillotine
/gil"euh teen', gee"euh-/; esp. for v. /gil'euh teen", gee'euh-/, n., v., guillotined, guillotining.
n.
1. a device for beheading a person by means of a heavy blade that is dropped between two posts serving as guides: widely used during the French Revolution.
2. an instrument for surgically removing the tonsils.
3. any of various machines in which a vertical blade between two parallel uprights descends to cut or trim metal, stacks of paper, etc.
v.t.
4. to behead by the guillotine.
5. to cut with or as if with a guillotine.
[1785-95; named after J. I. Guillotin (1738-1814), French physician who urged its use]

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Instrument for inflicting capital punishment by decapitation.

A minimal wooden structure, it supported a heavy blade that, when released, slid down in vertical guides to sever the victim's head. It was introduced in France in 1792 in the French Revolution, though similar devices had been used in Scotland, England, and other European countries, often for executing criminals of noble birth. The name derived from a French physician and member of the National Assembly, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (1738–1814), who was instrumental in passing a law requiring all sentences of death to be carried out "by means of a machine," so that execution by decapitation would no longer be confined to nobles and executions would be as painless as possible. The last execution by guillotine in France took place in 1977.

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▪ beheading instrument
      instrument for inflicting capital punishment by decapitation, introduced into France in 1792 during the Revolution. It consists of two upright posts surmounted by a crossbeam and grooved so as to guide an oblique-edged knife, the back of which is heavily weighted to make it fall forcefully upon (and slice through) the neck of a prone victim.

      Previous to the French Revolution, similar devices were in use in Scotland, England, and various other European countries—often for the execution of criminals of noble birth.

      A French physician, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, who was born at Saintes in 1738 and elected to the National Assembly in 1789, was instrumental in having a law passed requiring all sentences of death to be carried out by “means of a machine.” This was done so that the privilege of execution by decapitation would no longer be confined to the nobles and the process of execution would be as painless as possible. After the machine had been used in several satisfactory experiments on dead bodies in the hospital of Bicêtre, it was erected on the Place de Grève for the execution of a highwayman on April 25, 1792. At first the machine was called Louisette, or Louison, but soon became known as la guillotine. Later the French underworld dubbed it “the widow.” Use of the guillotine continued in France well into the 20th century, diminishing during the 1960s and '70s, with only eight executions occurring between 1965 and the last one in 1977. In September 1981 France outlawed capital punishment and abandoned the use of the guillotine. Compare beheading.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • guillotine — [ gijɔtin ] n. f. • 1789; de Guillotin, n. du médecin qui en préconisa l usage, après Louis et sa louisette 1 ♦ Instrument de supplice servant à trancher la tête des condamnés à mort par la chute d un couperet qui glisse entre deux montants… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Guillotiné — Guillotine La guillotine. La guillotine est une machine qui était utilisée pour l’application de la peine de mort par décapitation, en France, dans certains cantons de Suisse, en Suède, en Belgique et en Allemagne. La guillotine fut utilisée pour …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Guillotine — Sf Fallbeil erw. fach. (18. Jh.) Onomastische Bildung. Entlehnt aus frz. guillotine, das zurückgeht auf den Namen des Befürworters dieser Hinrichtungsart, dem französischen Arzt Guillotin.    Ebenso nndl. guillotine, ne. guillotine, nschw.… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • guillotiné — guillotiné, ée (ghi llo ti né, née, ll mouillées) part. passé de guillotiner. Condamné à mort pour meurtre et guillotiné.    Substantivement. Un guillotiné …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • guillotine — ► NOUN 1) a machine with a heavy blade sliding vertically in grooves, used for beheading people. 2) a device with a descending or sliding blade used for cutting paper or sheet metal. 3) Brit. (in parliament) a procedure used to limit discussion… …   English terms dictionary

  • Guillotine — Guil lo*tine (g[i^]l l[ o]*t[=e]n ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Guillotined}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Guillotining}.] [Cf. F. guillotiner.] To behead with the guillotine. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Guillotine — Guil lo*tine (g[i^]l l[ o]*t[=e]n ), n. [F., from Guillotin, a French physician, who proposed, in the Constituent Assembly of 1789, to abolish decapitation with the ax or sword. The instrument was invented by Dr. Antoine Louis, and was called at… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Guillotine — Guillotine, die bekannte, in Frankreich übliche Hinrichtungsmaschine, aus zwei oben mit einem Querbalken verbundenen Säulen bestehend, zwischen denen ein scharfes Eisen, das durch ein in einer Kurbel laufendes Seil dirigirt wird, schnell und… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • guillotine — (n.) The name of the machine in which the axe descends in grooves from a considerable height so that the stroke is certain and the head instantly severed from the body. [ Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, January 1793], 1791, from Fr …   Etymology dictionary

  • guillotine — [gil′ə tēn΄, gē′ətēn; ] for v., also [ gil΄ə tēn′, gē΄ətēn′] n. [Fr, after J. I. Guillotin (1738 1814), Fr physician who advocated its use during the French Revolution in preference to less humane methods] 1. an instrument for beheading by means… …   English World dictionary

  • Guillotine — (spr. Gillotihn), die in der ersten Französischen Revolution in Frankreich eingeführte, auch in mehreren deutschen u. italienischen Staaten u. in Griechenland übliche Köpfmaschine. Die G. besteht aus zwei, oben mit einem Querholz verbundenen… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon


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