cannibalism


cannibalism
cannibalistic, adj.cannibalistically, adv.
/kan"euh beuh liz'euhm/, n.
1. the eating of human flesh by another human being.
2. the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of its own kind.
3. the ceremonial eating of human flesh or parts of the human body for magical or religious purposes, as to acquire the power or skill of a person recently killed.
4. the act of pecking flesh from a live fowl by a member of the same flock.
5. the removal of parts, equipment, assets, or employees from one product, item, or business in order to use them in another.
6. the acquisition and absorption of smaller companies by a large corporation or conglomerate.
[1790-1800; CANNIBAL + -ISM]

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I
In zoology, the eating of any animal by another member of the same species.

Certain ants regularly consume injured immatures and, when food is scarce, eat healthy immatures; this practice allows the adults to survive the food shortage and live to breed again. Male lions taking over a pride may kill and eat the existing young. After losing her cubs the mother will become impregnated by the new dominant male, thereby ensuring his genetic contribution. Aquarium guppies sometimes regulate their population size by eating most of their young.
II
The usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by humans.

The term derives from the Spanish name (Caríbales or Caníbales) for the Carib people, first encountered by Christopher Columbus. Reliable firsthand accounts of the practice are comparatively rare, causing some to question whether full-blown cannibalism has ever existed. Most agree that the consumption of particular portions or organs was a ritual means by which certain qualities of the person eaten might be obtained or by which powers of witchcraft and sorcery might be exercised. In some cases, a small portion of the dead person was ritually eaten by relatives. Headhunters (see headhunting) sometimes consumed bits of the bodies or heads of deceased enemies. The Aztecs apparently practiced cannibalism on a large scale as part of the ritual of human sacrifice.

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      in zoology, the eating of any animal by another member of the same species. Cannibalism frequently serves as a mechanism to control population or to ensure the genetic contribution of an individual. In certain ants, injured immatures are regularly consumed. When food is lacking, the colony turns to the remaining healthy immatures. This practice allows the adults to survive the food shortage and live to breed again. In lions, males taking over a pride may kill and eat the existing young; the mothers who lose their cubs will then more rapidly become impregnated by the new dominant males. Aquarium guppies will regulate their population size by eating most of their young. When confined to cages, many animals, among them the popular golden hamster, may devour their young if disturbed.

also called  Anthropophagy,  

      eating of human flesh by humans. The term is derived from the Spanish name (Caríbales, or Caníbales) for the Carib, a West Indies tribe well known for their practice of cannibalism. A widespread custom going back into early human history, cannibalism has been found among peoples on most continents.

      Though many early accounts of cannibalism probably were exaggerated or in error, the practice prevailed until modern times in parts of West and Central Africa, Melanesia (especially Fiji), New Guinea, Australia, among the Maoris of New Zealand, in some of the islands of Polynesia, among tribes of Sumatra, and in various tribes of North and South America.

      In some regions human flesh was looked upon as a form of food, sometimes equated with animal food, as is indicated in the Melanesian (Melanesian culture) pidgin term “long pig.” Victorious Maoris (Maori) often cut up the bodies of the dead after a battle and feasted on the flesh, and the Batak of Sumatra were reported to have sold human flesh in the markets before they came under full control by the Dutch.

      In other cases the consumption of particular portions or organs was a ritual means by which certain qualities of the person eaten might be obtained or by which powers of witchcraft or sorcery might be employed. Ritual murder and cannibalism in Africa were often related to sorcery. Headhunters and others often consumed bits of the bodies or heads of deceased enemies as a means of absorbing their vitality or other qualities and reducing their powers of revenge (see also headhunting). The Aztecs apparently practiced cannibalism on a large scale as part of the ritual religious sacrifice of war captives and other victims.

      In some cases, the body of a dead person was ritually eaten by his relatives, a form called endocannibalism. Some Aboriginal Australians (Australian Aborigine) performed such practices as acts of respect. In other cases, ritual cannibalism occurred as a part of the drama of secret societies.

      There is no one satisfactory and all-inclusive explanation for cannibalism. Different peoples have practiced it for different reasons, and a group may practice cannibalism in one context and view it with horror in another. In any case, the spread of modernization usually results in the prohibition of such practices. In modern society cannibalism does occasionally occur as the result of extreme physical necessity in isolated surroundings; the case of the Donner party crossing into California in 1846–47 is such an instance.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cannibalism — Can ni*bal*ism, n. [Cf. F. cannibalisme.] The act or practice of eating human flesh by mankind. Hence; Murderous cruelty; barbarity. Berke. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cannibalism — 1796, from CANNIBAL (Cf. cannibal) + ISM (Cf. ism). Perhaps from Fr. cannibalisme, from the same year …   Etymology dictionary

  • Cannibalism — For non human cannibalism, see Cannibalism (zoology). For other uses, see Cannibal (disambiguation). Cannibalism, Brazil. Engraving by Theodor de Bry for Hans Staden s account of his 1557 captivity …   Wikipedia

  • cannibalism — n. to engage in, practice cannibalism * * * [ kænɪbəlɪz(ə)m] practice cannibalism to engage in …   Combinatory dictionary

  • cannibalism — [[t]kæ̱nɪbəlɪzəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT If a group of people practise cannibalism, they eat the flesh of other people. They were forced to practise cannibalism in order to survive …   English dictionary

  • Cannibalism —    The seemingly ubiquitous fear of cannibalism is expressed in many similar myths and allegations about cannibals in many cultures. Shamans may be expected to protect their communities from human or other than human cannibals who threaten this… …   Historical dictionary of shamanism

  • cannibalism — kanibalizmas statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Vidurūšinės konkurencijos forma – kaikurių gyvūnų savybėėsti tos pačios rūšies gyvūnus. atitikmenys: angl. cannibalism vok. Kannibalismus, m rus. каннибализм, m …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • cannibalism — cannibal ► NOUN ▪ a person who eats the flesh of other human beings. DERIVATIVES cannibalism noun cannibalistic adjective. ORIGIN Spanish Canibales, a variant of Caribes, a West Indian people reputed to eat humans; related to CARIB(Cf. ↑Carib) …   English terms dictionary

  • cannibalism — noun Date: 1796 1. the usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being 2. the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of the same kind 3. an act of cannibalizing something • cannibalistic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cannibalism — eating members of one s own species, common in fishes …   Dictionary of ichthyology


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