body snatcher

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From body + snatcher. Later use highly influenced by the 1955 novel The Body Snatchers and its repeated adaptation into film, wherein aliens begin replacing humans with pod people.

Noun[edit]

body snatcher ‎(plural body snatchers)

  1. (slang, humorous, pejorative, obsolete) One who makes arrests, such as a bailiff or policeman.
    • 1778 August 19, Public Advertiser
      They proved to be two of those Body-Snatchers, called hired Constables, who were patrolling the Fields.
    • 1877, R. Rae, Newport, 40
      Look here, my body-snatchers, you have unlawfully abridged the liberty of one of the sons of the sovereign State of New York!
  2. One who abducts or controls another's body, such as a slaver, psychic, or human resources agent.
    • 1852, B.R. Hall, Frank Freeman's Barber Shop, xiv. 252
      A black woman told Carrie not to say master and missis, because you were body-snatchers and slave-drivers.
    • 1894 September, Harper's Magazine, 581/2
      Girls who can't let a man go by without reaching out for him. That's what I call them—body snatchers.
    • 1961 June, Fortune, 129/1
      McCulloch had no compunction about using these executive recruiting firms. They were, he knew, often derisively called ‘body snatchers’, ‘head hunters’, ‘flesh peddlers’, and ‘pirates’.
    • 1994 August 9, Associated Press, Newswire
      South claims hundreds abducted by North Korea's ‘body snatchers’.
    • 2000, C. Golden, Head Games, 166
      ‘What are you looking at?’
      ‘An alien body snatcher who stole my partner and took her place.’
  3. (historical) One who sells cadavers to anatomists, surgeons, etc., especially by exhuming corpses from graves, a resurrection man.
    • 1819, J. H. Vaux, New Vocab. Flash Lang. in Memoirs
      Body-snatcher, a stealer of dead bodies from churchyards; which are sold to the surgeons and students in anatomy.
    • 1910, Encyclopædia Britannica, I. 937/2:
      So emboldened and careless did these body-snatchers become... that they no longer confined themselves to pauper graves.
  4. (in particular) A graverobber who steals bodies or body parts.
    • 2008 March 19, Daily Record (Glasgow), 9:
      The head of a ring of bodysnatchers who stole the bones of broadcaster Alistair Cooke pleaded guilty yesterday.

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