verb (used with object), im·paled, im·pal·ing.

  1. to fasten, stick, or fix upon a sharpened stake or the like.
  2. to pierce with a sharpened stake thrust up through the body, as for torture or punishment.
  3. to fix upon, or pierce through with, anything pointed.
  4. to make helpless as if pierced through.
  5. Archaic. to enclose with or as if with pales or stakes; fence in; hem in.
  6. Heraldry.
    1. to marshal (two coats of arms, as the family arms of a husband and wife) on an escutcheon party per pale.
    2. (of a coat of arms) to be combined with (another coat of arms) in this way.

verb (tr)

  1. (often foll by on, upon, or with) to pierce with a sharp instrumentthey impaled his severed head on a spear
  2. archaic to enclose with pales or fencing; fence in
  3. heraldry to charge (a shield) with two coats of arms placed side by side

1520s, “to enclose with stakes, fence in,” from Middle French empaler and directly from Medieval Latin impalare “to push onto a stake,” from assimilated form of in- “into, in” (see in- (2)) + Latin palus “a stake, prop, stay; wooden post, pole,” from PIE *pak-slo-, from root *pag-/*pak- “to fasten” (see pact). Sense of “pierce with a pointed stake” (as torture or punishment) first recorded 1610s. Related: Impaled; impaling.

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