The Collaborative International Dictionary
Guillotine \Guil"lo*tine`\ (g[i^]l"l[-o]*t[=e]n`), n. [F., from Guillotin, a French physician, who proposed, in the Constituent Assembly of 1789, to abolish decapitation with the ax or sword. The instrument was invented by Dr. Antoine Louis, and was called at first Louison or Louisette. Similar machines, however, were known earlier.]
A machine for beheading a person by one stroke of a heavy ax or blade, which slides in vertical guides, is raised by a cord, and let fall upon the neck of the victim.
Any machine or instrument for cutting or shearing, resembling in its action a guillotine.