From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

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.]
   1. 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.
      [1913 Webster]

   2. Any machine or instrument for cutting or shearing,
      resembling in its action a guillotine.
      [1913 Webster]
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