Definition of maul in English:



[with object]
  • 1(of an animal) wound (a person or animal) by scratching and tearing.

    ‘a man was mauled by a lion at London Zoo’
    • ‘At Babylon there is a famous basalt statue of a man being mauled by a lion.’
    • ‘A mother whose two dogs mauled a young girl today pleaded for them not to be destroyed and claimed: ‘My dogs are not dangerous.’’
    • ‘The patient was mauled by a pet Labrador in June, leaving her with severe facial injuries that her doctors said made it difficult for her to speak and eat.’
    • ‘You see from time to time children being mauled by dogs.’
    • ‘How could I not feel so bad when I had just found out my brother was mauled by two dogs?’
    • ‘We would tell them that an animal has mauled a person at the zoo and they would have to find out from the footprints and animal imprints what kind of animal did it.’
    • ‘Bears shall maul the wicked, and the wolves shall consume them.’
    • ‘The beast just overwhelmed him, just mauled him as he slept.’
    • ‘As the world knows, he was mauled on stage last month by one of his pets.’
    • ‘Trembling slightly, Ian continued to crouch down, doubled-up in an almost foetal position, and waited to be mauled.’
    • ‘A woman has told today how her pet dog's life is hanging in the balance after it was badly mauled by another canine in an unprovoked attack.’
    • ‘Dogs and foxes always go for the neck, but this time whatever attacked the sheep pounced on it from behind, pinning it down and mauling both sides of the back.’
    • ‘Why should he risk being mauled to death if he doesn't need to?’
    • ‘He won't maul intruders, but he won't leave surprises on the carpet either.’
    • ‘Calls have been made for a change in the law on dangerous dogs after a 12-year-old boy was savagely mauled.’
    • ‘They would gang up on a lone rhino and maul it to death.’
    • ‘We had to get rid of her though after she almost mauled the mailman.’
    • ‘Her hands and feet were also badly mauled by stray dogs.’
    • ‘As for personal experience, I was once nearly mauled by a bear while camping.’
    • ‘A fourth person was mauled to death by a crocodile, the paper reported.’
    savage, attack, tear to pieces, lacerate, claw, mutilate, mangle, scratch
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    1. 1.1Treat (something) savagely or roughly.
      ‘the body was badly mauled in battle’
      • ‘This was not the first time Darwin had been severely damaged by a cyclone: it was badly mauled in both January 1897 and March 1937.’
      • ‘‘We all had it,’ she says, sitting on a rug in front of her mud hut while her granddaughter mauls a stalk of sugarcane.’
      • ‘More riots are expected as a 30% transport and bread price increase mauls family budgets.’
      • ‘This was a response to another government institution mauling community activities and local concerns.’
      • ‘In best campfire tradition, we tell stories - not ghost stories, but mauling stories.’
      • ‘This comes after the Opposition was mauled yesterday in Question Time when Labor backbenchers were really looking to make budgetary inroads on the equity angle.’
      • ‘So when a little boy mauled his science notebook, scrawled a message on one of the pages, and rushed into the shot, he was severely reprimanded.’
      • ‘Some more chaste readers may blanch at this next revelation, but I maul books: I scribble in margins, bend pages, use inside covers as note-pads.’
      • ‘But the guilt has been creeping up on me, grasping at my skin, gnawing away at my bones, chewing on my heart, mauling my conscience, and spitting out my toenails one by one.’
      • ‘Only days before Custer's loss, Crook's cavalry was mauled near the Rosebud River.’
      • ‘Sometimes I feel like a cat that is being mauled by a small child.’
      • ‘Right when I walked into the gymnasium, I was practically mauled by Rory and Sara.’
      molest, feel, fondle
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    2. 1.2Handle (someone) roughly, especially for sexual gratification.
      ‘the last thing I wanted to do was have a slobbering drunk mauling me’
      • ‘After the third time we hung out, we were lying on her bed at like three in the morning and all of a sudden, she just mauls me.’
      • ‘Just because someone is willing to see what you're like to kiss does not mean you have an open invitation to maul him or her.’
      • ‘She herself enjoys a few moments of heightened sexual pleasure, and she enthusiastically mauls a couple of obnoxious idiots.’
      • ‘I want to make you know about sex, to feel thrilling climaxes - not let you learn about it by being mauled by some brutal man.’
      • ‘The way she mauls the sympathetic doctor suggests she is a victim of the solitude that afflicts all these characters.’
      molest, feel, fondle
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    3. 1.3informal Defeat heavily in a game or match.
      ‘the team were mauled 4-0 by Manchester City’
      • ‘Wales have shown signs of recovering from the terrible mauling they received at the hands of an Irish side that was, in turn, given something of a good hiding by England at Twickenham.’
      • ‘They approached this game with some trepidation following a 6-1 mauling at the hands of the same opposition only three weeks earlier.’
      • ‘His fury came as his side went down to their biggest home defeat since the 53-25 mauling by Exeter in 1977.’
      • ‘A 60 points mauling at Hull on Sunday doesn't suggest some of his team have the stomach for a fight.’
      • ‘The last thing Manchester need is a mauling from a side that has stacked up more than 500 points this season.’
    4. 1.4Subject to fierce criticism.
      ‘during the trial she was mauled by the media’
      • ‘Despite it all, he wrote a fictionalised account of his disastrous passion and was promptly mauled by critics and friends alike.’
      • ‘It is attracting much controversy, as well as being mauled by the movie critics.’
      • ‘If a book has been mauled by our critics, one can hardly expect the massacre to be put on display in a shop aiming to shift copies of the offending item.’
      • ‘Despite being mauled by critics, it managed to exceed box office expectations in its opening weekend.’
      • ‘She understood his work, read his proofs and even took over his correspondence when he became ill after publishing the Origin of Species which he feared would receive a critical mauling.’
      criticize, denigrate, attack, censure, condemn, find fault with, give a bad press to, pillory, lambaste, flay, savage
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    5. 1.5Rugby no object Take part in a maul.
      ‘the forwards rucked and mauled to near perfection’
      • ‘Missing some key men among six absent first-team regulars, they suffered in the set scrummage but rucked and mauled well.’
      • ‘The home team had plenty of early possession, and adopted the obvious tactics of hitting the ball up close to ruck and maul via their big men.’
      • ‘With an all new control system that is intuitive and user friendly, players will be rucking, mauling, and kicking like champions in no time.’
      • ‘The pack were excellent throughout, controlling the scrum and lineouts and aggressively rucking and mauling.’
      • ‘The forwards rucked and mauled to near perfection although they did not dominate the lineout like they can do.’


  • 1(in rugby union) a loose scrum formed around a player with the ball off the ground.

    • ‘The grounding of the ball in a driven maul satisfied the touch judge, but not the referee, and another chance disappeared.’
    • ‘Little headway was made in the maul but the ball was switched across the field.’
    • ‘They then executed a well-controlled maul before the ball was flashed out to the opposite flank.’
    • ‘I have proposed that the offside line at a maul should be the ball.’
    • ‘Furthermore, the driving maul and the scrum began to gain ground and the backs started running on to the ball.’
  • 2

    another term for beetle (sense 1 of the noun)


Middle English (in the sense ‘hammer or wooden club’, also ‘strike with a heavy weapon’): from Old French mail, from Latin malleus ‘hammer’.