headsman (plural headsmen)
- An executioner whose method of dispatching the condemned is decapitation.
1603, John Florio, transl.; Michel de Montaigne, Essayes, printed at London: Edward Blount, OCLC 946730821:, I.40:
- And of those base-minded jesters or buffons, some have beene seene, that even at the point of death would never leave their jesting and scoffing. He whom the heads-man threw off from the Gallowes cried out, ‘Row the Gally,’ which was his ordinarie by-word.
- 1885, Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mikado
- And made him Headsman, for we said, / "Who's next to be decapited / Cannot cut off another's head / Until he's cut his own off […]"
- (mining, historical) A boy who was not strong enough to put on his own, and was thus assisted by a younger boy called a foal.