Definition of gibbet in English:



  • 1A gallows.

    • ‘A keen historian he also spent considerable time searching for items of historical interest and even managed to locate a gibbet from an old gallows from which a young Irish lad was hung in 1832.’
    • ‘Opinion was running hot and heavy, and gibbets, nooses, electric chairs and lethal injections were topics featuring prominently.’
    • ‘As the three heretics walked to the gibbet, some young boys plunged sharp sticks through the cracks in the walkway.’
    • ‘His crimes discovered, he was sentenced to be hanged from a gibbet which he himself had designed.’
    gibbet, scaffold
    1. 1.1An upright post with an arm on which the bodies of executed criminals were left hanging as a warning or deterrent to others.
      • ‘You can still see their bodies, swinging slowly on the gibbet outside, an example to all who would cross the Valley of Death.’
      • ‘In 1796 the corpse of convicted murderer Francis Morgan was hung in chains from a gibbet as a sign to arriving convicts of their fate for bad behaviour.’
      • ‘It was the custom then to hang a convicted man on the spot where he committed the crime, and then display the corpse on a gibbet beside the public highway.’
      • ‘He was tried in a kangaroo court and hanged, his corpse left to rot on the gibbet for four years.’
      • ‘Just to prevent any dissent (and possibly to settle a question of geography), Columbus had his ship's carpenter fix a gibbet to the staff-rail of his ship and told his men that anyone who suggested that they were not in India would be hanged.’
    2. 1.2the gibbetExecution by hanging.
      ‘the four ringleaders were sentenced to the gibbet’
      • ‘He called him a hero for whom ‘the gibbet has only increased his glory, and made him a martyr.’’

verbgibbets, gibbeting, gibbeted

[with object]
  • 1historical Hang up (a body) on a gibbet.

    ‘Hangings were public affairs and sometimes the bodies were gibbeted - left on the noose after death as a sign of the consequences of crime.’
    execute by hanging, hang by the neck, send to the gallows, send to the gibbet, send to the scaffold, gibbet, put to death
    1. 1.1historical Execute (someone) by hanging.
      ‘Most of the city's residents turned out to watch the executioner gibbet, hang, or burn the convicted.’
      hanging, gibbeting
    2. 1.2historical, archaic Subject to ridicule and derision.
      ‘poor Melbourne is gibbeted in The Times’


Middle English from Old French gibet ‘staff, cudgel, gallows’, diminutive of gibe ‘club, staff’, probably of Germanic origin.