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From Middle English murder, murdre, mourdre "murder", alteration of earlier murthre (murder) (see murther) from Old English morþor (secret slaying, unlawful killing) and Old English myrþra (murder, homicide), both from Proto-Germanic *murþrą (death, killing, murder), from Proto-Indo-European *mrtro- (killing), from Proto-Indo-European *mer-, *mor-, *mr- (to die). Akin to Gothic 𐌼𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌸𐍂 (maurþr, murder), Old High German mord (murder), Old Norse morð (murder), Old English myrþrian (to murder) and morþ.

The -d- in the Middle English form may have been influenced in part by Anglo-Norman murdre, from Medieval Latin murdrum from Old French murdre, from Frankish *murþra (murder), from the same Germanic root, though this may also have been wholly the result of internal development (compare burden, from burthen).



murder (countable and uncountable, plural murders)

  1. (countable) An act of deliberate killing of another being, especially a human.
    There have been ten unsolved murders this year alone.
    • 1927, F. E. Penny, chapter 4, in Pulling the Strings:
      The case was that of a murder. It had an element of mystery about it, however, which was puzzling the authorities. A turban and loincloth soaked in blood had been found; also a staff.
    • 1984, Humphrey Carpenter, Mari Prichard, The Oxford companion to children's literature, page 275:
      It may be guessed, indeed, that this was the original form of the story, the fairy being the addition of those who considered Jack's thefts from (and murder of) the giant to be scarcely justified without her.
    • 2003, Paul Ruditis, Star Trek Voyager: Companion ↑ISBN, page 131:
      Captain Sulu, who served under the legendary James T. Kirk for many years, disobeys Starfleet orders in order to try and help Kirk and another old shipmate, Dr. McCoy, who have been imprisoned for the murder of the Klingon chancellor.
    • 2011, Carlene Brennen, Hemingway's Cats ↑ISBN, page 161:
      Dr. Herrera also knew Hemingway had held Batista's army personally responsible for the brutal murders of his dogs, Blackie (Black Dog) and Machakos.
  2. (uncountable) The crime of deliberate killing of another human.
    The defendant was charged with murder.
    • 2012 August 21, Ed Pilkington, “Death penalty on trial: should Reggie Clemons live or die?”, in The Guardian:
      Reggie Clemons has one last chance to save his life. After 19 years on death row in Missouri for the murder of two young women, he has been granted a final opportunity to persuade a judge that he should be spared execution by lethal injection.
    • 2013 July 20, “Old soldiers?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Whether modern, industrial man is less or more warlike than his hunter-gatherer ancestors is impossible to determine. [] One thing that is true, though, is that murder rates have fallen over the centuries, as policing has spread and the routine carrying of weapons has diminished. Modern society may not have done anything about war. But peace is a lot more peaceful.
  3. (uncountable, law, in jurisdictions which use the felony murder rule) The commission of an act which abets the commission of a crime the commission of which causes the death of a human.
  4. (uncountable, used as a predicative noun) Something terrible to endure.
    This headache is murder.
  5. (countable, collective) A group of crows; the collective noun for crows.
    • 1995, Deepak Chopra, The Return of Merlin: A Novel, ↑ISBN, page 108:
      For his part, Melchior was growing unhappy with the murder of crows. They had been patiently following Arthur for hours, trailing him from town to country.
    • 2001, Daniel Handler, The Vile Village, ↑ISBN, page 76:
      Without the murder of crows roosting in its branches, Nevermore Tree looked as bare as a skeleton.

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


murder (third-person singular simple present murders, present participle murdering, simple past and past participle murdered)

  1. To deliberately kill (a person or persons).
    The woman found dead in her kitchen was murdered by her husband.
  2. (transitive, sports, figuratively, colloquial) To defeat decisively.
    Our team is going to murder them.
  3. To botch or mangle.
    • 1892, William Shepard Walsh, Handy-book of Literary Curiosities[1], page 293:
      Dr. Caius, the Frenchman in the play, and Evans the Welshman, "Gallia et Guallia," succeed pretty well in their efforts to murder the language.
  4. (figuratively, colloquial) To kick someone's ass or chew someone out (used to express one’s anger at somebody).
    He's torn my best shirt. When I see him, I'll murder him!
  5. (figuratively, colloquial, Britain) to devour, ravish.
    I could murder a hamburger right now.


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