Date: 1200-1300
Origin: Probably from an unrecorded Old English cyllan


1 verb
kill1 S1 W1

make somebody/something die

[intransitive and transitive] to make a person or animal die:
Why did she kill her husband?
Murray held a gun to his head and threatened to kill him.
Four people were killed when a train plunged into a flooded river.
be killed instantly/outright (=immediately)
The driver was killed instantly.
Bleach kills household germs.
Smoking kills.

kill yourself

a) to cause your own death:
You're going to kill yourself on that bike.
After her husband died, Mary tried to kill herself.
b) to work very hard to achieve something in a way that makes you ill or tired:
It's not worth killing yourself over it.
kill yourself to do something
He about killed himself to make the business go.

make something stop/fail

[transitive] to make something stop operating or fail:
Joe pulled in and killed the engine.
The out-of-town shopping centre will kill local trade.
kill your speed (=drive slowly)

be angry with somebody

[transitive] informal to be very angry with someone:
Mom will kill me if I'm late.


[transitive] to make someone feel annoyed, sad, concerned etc
it kills somebody to do something
It kills me to see him working so hard.
What happened next? The suspense is killing me.

would/could kill for something

also would kill to do something to want something so much that you will do almost anything to get it or do it:
I could kill for a smoke right now.
In those days, actors would kill to break into film.

my head/back etc is killing me

spoken used to say that a part of your body is hurting a lot:
I've walked miles and my feet are killing me.

kill time/an hour etc

to spend time doing something which is not important while you are waiting to do something important or waiting for something else to happen:
With time to kill, he took a cab to the centre.

kill a beer/bottle of wine etc

spoken to drink or finish drinking a beer etc quickly:
Let's kill these beers and go.

make somebody laugh

[transitive] to make someone laugh a lot
kill yourself laughing
They weren't bothered - in fact they were killing themselves laughing.

it won't/wouldn't kill somebody (to do something)

spoken used to say that someone could easily do something, and ought to do it:
It wouldn't kill you to help out once in a while.

(even) if it kills me

spoken used to emphasize that you are determined to do something even though it is very difficult:
I'm completing this course, even if it kills me.

kill two birds with one stone

to achieve two things with one action

kill the goose that lays the golden egg

to destroy the thing that brings you profit or success

kill the fatted calf

to welcome someone home with a big meal etc after they have been away for a long time

kill somebody with kindness

to be too kind to someone, in a way that actually harms them

kill or cure

used to say that something you are going to do will be either successful or fail completely

➔ dressed to kill

at dressed (3)

kill something ↔ off

phrasal verb
1 to cause the death of a lot of living things [= destroy]:
Pollution is rapidly killing off plant life.
2 to stop or remove something completely [= destroy]:
These figures kill off any hope that the economy is poised for recovery.

kill, murder, execute, put to death, kill yourself, commit suicide, slaughter, massacre, assassinate
There are many different words meaning to kill someone. Kill is the most general He says he did not mean to kill his wife. Thousands of soldiers were killed in the war. Use murder to talk about deliberately killing someone, especially after planning to do it He is charged with murdering a policeman. When you are talking about killing someone as a punishment for a crime, use execute or put someone to death He was executed by a firing squad. the first person to be put to death in San Quentin jail If someone deliberately causes their own death, say that they commit suicide or that someone kills himself or herself the feeling of hopelessness that led him to commit suicide, It was not the first time she had tried to kill herself. Slaughter and massacre mean to violently kill a large number of people who cannot defend themselves. These words are used mainly in writing or journalism Hundreds of innocent civilians were slaughtered. Soldiers massacred 900 men, women, and children in the village. Use assassinate to talk about killing an important person, especially a politician J.F.Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.

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