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What is a single word to describe "beating someone brutally"?

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It might be helpful to include in a request for a term a brief statement describing the intended or anticipated. – user5926 Mar 10 '11 at 4:23
Honestly, there are so many good words for this, I don't think there can be one that constitutes a right answer. We English-speakers are kinda into violence. It's like the Sami with their hundreds of words for snow. – T.E.D. Jul 29 '11 at 20:01

11 Answers 11

"Thrash" is a good word, and looking at a thesaurus gives many others including batter, clobber, maul, paste, pound, pummel/pommel, wallop, assault, bash, drub, etc. Meanings depend on context and some of these can be informal/mild/humorous; before using a word, look up its meaning and examples of usage.

Bonus Indian-English slang word: thulp, probably derived from "thrash/thump to a pulp". :-)

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Note that "thrash" can also mean (in British English, at least), to resoundingly beat a person or team in a sport - so context is important. – Steve Melnikoff Oct 10 '10 at 18:39
Listening to sportscasters during the nightly news, you are likely to hear any of the terms @ShreevatsaR listed used as nouns, adverbs, or adjectives, as well as verbs. – oosterwal Feb 19 '11 at 3:20
Some of these words, like clobber or wallop, can imply that only a single blow was administered; the phrase "beating someone brutally" implies (at least to me) that it went on for a while. – intuited Apr 19 '11 at 22:20
@Steve Melnikoff - In American English, I've seen every word up there used for "to resoundingly beat a person or team in sports". – T.E.D. Jul 29 '11 at 20:03

Your question said to beat someone brutally. I think "brutalize" is therefore a great candidate that no one has yet mentioned.

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To me "brutalize" always seems to suggest "to make someone brutal", as in "Giving too much power to prison wardens brutalizes them" or "The atmosphere of fierce competition has brutalized our minds". This meaning is listed in dictionaries, and looking at results before 1900 it seems to be the only meaning. I wonder when this meaning of "brutalize" as "beat someone brutally" came into existence; I find it ugly…. – ShreevatsaR Mar 11 '11 at 12:32
@Shree: Interesting. I didn't have that use for brutalize in my head yet. +1 for a great use of the word, regardless of which came first. – MrHen Mar 17 '11 at 18:20
Here in the USA, "brutalize" is often a euphemism for rape. We don't like just out and out using the latter term, particularly in print. – T.E.D. Jul 29 '11 at 19:58
I just searched U.S. news outlets for use of the word "brutalize" and could not find a single use indicating rape. – Fixee Jul 30 '11 at 1:14

Adding to ShreevatsaR's answer, you have trounce, which seems similar to thrash - it can mean to either beat severely or to defeat in a game/battle. Maybe you could also use pulverize, which literally means to turn to dust, but can be used to mean to beat to a pulp.

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One word missing from the list at this point is savage (usually used in the past tense or in its adverbial form, savagely).

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If you find yourself in a thuggish neighborhood (and hip-hop slang is accepable):

To merc or to merk

Be warned: these definitions use coarse language that may be offensive to the reader (urbandictionary.com).

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I think the usage is, if someone is "merked", they are literally dead. You can use it figuratively, to describe an epic defeat at some talent (e.g., rapping), but there's no in between like you give. – Uticensis Feb 19 '11 at 2:57

Batter is used often when the victim is a woman.

  • "She was battered repeatedly."
  • "He battered her mercilessly."
  • "He committed battery on every woman he married."
  • "He was convicted of battery."
  • "He had a habit of battering his wife and children whenever he was drunk or angry."
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Your answer was already suggested by ShreevatsaR, but you've given very clear examples on how to exploit this verb. – Mari-Lou A Jul 23 '13 at 9:36

Curb-stomping is a specific kind of brutal beating that is often used metaphorically to describe extremely one-sided conflicts (warning: tvtropes).

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In legal terminology 'mayhem' is used to describe 'intentional infliction of violent injury'

This is distinct from simple assault, which is an intentional attack, and battery, the injury resulting from assault.

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My understanding is that mayhem refers specifically to the infliction of a permanent, disabling injury, such as the loss of a limb. – Nate Eldredge Jun 4 '12 at 3:35

Depending on the weapon used, you might try fustigate, meaning to beat with a cudgel; this would be particularly appropriate if you wish to convey a certain archaic tone.

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Some words you can use:


M-w.com gives the following definition for the word:

" to beat with or as if with a rod or whip."


Again, referring to m-w.com yields the following definitions:

transitive verb 1 a : to thrash soundly : b : to beat by a wide margin : 2 : to hit with force :

lambaste, trounce and sock are referenced as synonyms.

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Pasting, battering, clattering, thumping, walloping, kicking-in, drubbing.

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