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Definition of "cannibalize" [cannibalize]

  • To remove serviceable parts from (damaged airplanes, for example) for use in the repair of other equipment of the same kind. (verb-transitive)
  • To deprive of vital elements or resources, such as personnel, equipment, or funding, for use elsewhere: "It becomes necessary to cannibalize unsuccessful projects to fund those which can proceed” ( Daily Report for Executives). (verb-transitive)
  • To draw on as a major source: "cannibalizes the lives of his wife and friends for his second-rate novels” ( Washington Post). (verb-transitive)
  • To practice cannibalism on. (verb-transitive)
  • To practice cannibalism. (verb-intransitive)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "cannibalize" in a sentence
  • "You cannibalize and that's why we use the term cannibalize because that's exactly what is happening not only to us, but to others."
  • "The problem is that banks may be reluctant to "cannibalize" on their overdraft fee income with lower-cost loans, Bair wrote in a 2005 report when she taught at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst."
  • "And now we arrive at a juncture where the budget crisis ostensibly is being used as cover to "cannibalize" the state's education system, quite possibly in an irreparable manner."