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From head’s +‎ man.


headsman (plural headsmen)

  1. An executioner whose method of dispatching the condemned is decapitation.
    • 1603, John Florio, trans. Michel de Montaigne, Essays, I.40:
      And of those base-minded jesters or buffons, some have beene seene, that even at the point of death would never leave their jesting and scoffing. He whom the heads-man threw off from the Gallowes cried out, ‘Row the Gally,’ which was his ordinarie by-word.
  • 1885Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mikado
    And made him Headsman, for we said,
    "Who's next to be decapited
    Cannot cut off another's head
    Until he's cut his own off[....]"