Is there any single word substitute for 'Burning Alive'? We've Behead for 'Cut off the head'. Similar way, What is the Single word equivalent for 'Burning Alive' If any?

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    Have you used a thesaurus or reverse look up dictionary (like onelook.com) to see if there is a word? Feb 5, 2015 at 11:12
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    Are you referring specifically to execution by burning, or burning to death in general?
    – Adrian W
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:20
  • @adrian Yes execution by burning.
    – Maxin Bits
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:24
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    My favorite of these terms is "defenestration" - killing someone by throwing them out of a window.
    – Oldbag
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:39
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    I thought defenestration was throwing anything out of a window. Feb 5, 2015 at 12:10

5 Answers 5


The word immolation has this sense (among others):

immolate tr.v.

  1. To kill (an animal, for instance) as a religious sacrifice.
  2. To kill, especially by fire: "[The soldiers] are crushed under rocks, pierced by bullets, immolated by flamethrowers" (A.O. Scott).

immolation n.

{AHDEL} [tidied]

  • 1. For instance, at the shrine of Huitzilopochti on top of the temple mayor of Tenochtitlan.
    – Erik Kowal
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:45

The usual term for this is immolation, derived from the verb immolate:



Kill or offer as a sacrifice, especially by burning


Chinese kings would immolate vast numbers of animals

When her father - who did not accept Shiva, ever - publicly humiliated her beloved at the ritual, Sati immolated herself in the sacrificial fire, desecrating it.

In the old days, the priests used to immolate their sacrifices at the shrine of Huitzilopochti on top of the temple mayor of Tenochtitlan, but we're more civilised than that.

Madri immolates herself on her husband's funeral pyre.

(Definition and examples from Oxforddictionaries.com)

  • -2 sec Serves you right for using big words. Feb 5, 2015 at 11:13
  • @EdwinAshworth - "Burn!", eh? :)
    – Erik Kowal
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:22
  • See you in Mexico. I take it they've voted in a new mayor. Feb 5, 2015 at 12:59

Ignore everything I'm about to say! I made a mistake.

I'm pretty sure the word is simply "burning" (used in context). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_(disambiguation) Having looked around, no other term is used for the executory incineration of a human. It wouldn't be too hard to Google this kind of question.

And ignore this, too.

Edit: I have to give respect to Erik Kowal for "Immolation." However, understand that immolation is used in the sense of "self-immolation." Execution by fire is not immolation.

More respect to Erik Kowal. He's a boss.

  • Burning doesn't imply that the thing being burned is alive. Also, it is not too hard too search for the answer. Feb 5, 2015 at 11:13
  • It is correct that the word "Burning" on its own does not imply that the thing being burned is alive. However, it needs to be used in the proper context, as with almost any word.
    – Adrian W
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:17
  • To be fair to other posters here, we all pressed the button on variations of the same answer within seconds of each other. Now, as to your comment that "Execution by fire is not immolation", I'm afraid that is not quite correct: any context in which death is caused by being burned alive can be said to involve immolation.
    – Erik Kowal
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:19
  • While that may be true, the term immolation is not used to describe this method of execution. Decapitation involves cutting, yet we would not call it execution by cutting. I will happily redact my assertion if you can find a good example.
    – Adrian W
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:24
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    If you run a Google search on immolation "Jordanian pilot", you will find plenty of news stories that make reference to the execution by immolation of this most unfortunate person.
    – Erik Kowal
    Feb 5, 2015 at 11:35

The traditional word for this is immolate. While this can theoretically mean other types of death, it is nowadays usually understood to involve burning.


During the English Reformation "heretics" were burned at the stake. That means they were tied to a stake and a fire lit beneath them.

I have never heard any other term, such as immolation used in connection with these executions.

If you go to this YouTube clip you will see the historian Professor David Starkey demonstrating this process to a class of sixth formers (aged 16-18), attending Jamie's (Oliver) Dream School, for children who have hitherto failed. It is not done in a morbid or frightening way, and it is very interesting.


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