guillotine

Definitions

General English

Cars & Driving

Construction

  • In woodworking or cabinetry, a trimming machine that can cut the two matching ends of a joint to any given angle.

Information & Library Science

  • noun a device used for cutting and trimming paper

Law

  • noun a machine formerly used in France for executing criminals by cutting off their heads
  • verb to execute someone by cutting his or her head off with a guillotine

Medical

  • noun a surgical instrument for cutting out tonsils

Politics

  • noun a motion in the House of Commons to end a debate on a clause of a bill at an agreed time and generally without allowing a full debate
  • verb in the House of Commons, to end a debate at an agreed time, and generally without allowing a full debate to take place

Publishing

  • verb to cut paper with a guillotine

Origin & History of “guillotine”

Joseph Ignace Guillotin (1738–1814), a French doctor, did not invent the device named after him – such contraptions had been around for some time – but it was he who saw the advantages, in terms of speed and efficiency, of an easily resettable blade for beheading in a time of peak demand, and he recommended it to the Revolutionary authorities. The term used for it, first recorded in English in 1793, is a fitting memorial to him. Its application to the limitation of discussion in a legislature dates from the 1890s.
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