AskDefine | Define cull

Dictionary Definition

cull n : the person or thing rejected or set aside as inferior in quality [syn: reject]


1 remove something that has been rejected; "cull the sick members of the herd"
2 look for and gather; "pick mushrooms"; "pick flowers" [syn: pick, pluck]

User Contributed Dictionary



From coillir "collect, gather, select," from colligere "gather together."



  1. To pick something.
  2. To take something (from somewhere).
  3. To select animals from a group and kill them in order to reduce the numbers of the group in a controlled way
  4. In the context of "nonstandard|euphemism": To kill animals.


  • 1984, cover star: JOE DALLESANDRO culled from Andy Warhol's FLESH — anonymous, Sleeve notes from The Smiths' album The Smiths


To pick something
To select animals from a group and kill them

Extensive Definition

Culling is the 'selection' (removing or killing) of surplus animals from an animal population. In a wild population the selection is often done by killing the animal immediately. In a domestic situation the culling process involves selection and the selling of surplus stock. The selection may be done to improve breeding stock, for example for improved production of eggs or milk, or simply to control the group's population for the benefit of the environment and other species.
Culling for population control is common in wildlife management, particularly on African game farms and in Australia in national parks. In the case of very large animals such as elephants, adults are often targeted. Their orphaned young, easily captured and transported, are then relocated. Without proper elephant socialization, young male elephants are believed to become unruly and dangerous to other elephants, wildlife and humans. Culling is controversial in many African countries, but reintroduction of the practice has been recommended in recent years for use at the Kruger National Park in South Africa, which has experienced a swell in its elephant population since culling was banned in 1995.
In fishing tournaments, culling refers to releasing smaller fish that won't be used to count towards an angler's total weight. For instance, if an angler is allowed to weigh in only 4 fish, he might keep his first four 2 pound fish in the livewell until he starts to catch bigger fish. As he catches bigger fish, he can release (or cull) the smaller fish.
Also, in the United States, game animals such as elk may be informally culled if they begin to excessively eat winter food set out for domestic cattle. In such instances the rancher will inform hunters that they may "hunt the haystack" on his property in order to thin the local herd to levels that do not excessively impact the winter feed supplies. Other instances include issuance of extra hunting licenses or additional "special seasons" during harsh winters or overpopulation by state fish and game agencies.
In certain cases culling may also be undertaken to check outbreak of certain viral or other infections and diseases among animals or birds. This has become widespread in India and some other East Asian countries where there are outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 virus among poultry. Huge number of chickens and some other fowls are being culled (as of January 2008) in order to contain spread of the avian flu.
Culling would require a lot of safety steps to be maintained in such cases of culling animals/birds since even a minor fault can cause the infections to spread out from the affected animals/birds to the population at large. Safety measures may include wearing special protective clothing and breathing apparatus to keep the workers culling the affected animals/birds.
Chick slaughtering is the culling of newly hatched male chickens for which breeders have no use. In an industrial egg-producing facility, about half of the newly hatched chicks will be male and would grow up to be roosters, which do not lay eggs and therefore there is no incentive for the breeder to keep alive. Most of the male chicks are usually killed shortly after hatching.
Culling is also the term used to describe the process of removing unwanted prose from a coursework essay. The unwanted prose is often noted as unneccessary and value destroying.


cull in German: Keulung

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abscind, accumulate, amass, amputate, annihilate, assemble, ban, bar, bob, bolt, bring together, choose out, clip, collect, cordon, cordon off, crop, cull out, cut, cut away, cut off, cut out, decide between, dig up, discriminate, divide, dock, elect, eliminate, enucleate, eradicate, except, excerpt, excise, exclude, extinguish, extirpate, extract, garner, gather, gather in, get in, get together, ghettoize, gin, glean, grub, grub up, handpick, insulate, isolate, keep apart, keep aside, knock off, lay aside, lop, make a selection, mark, mutilate, nip, opt for, pare, peel, pick, pick out, pick up, pluck, prefer, prune, put aside, quarantine, rake up, riddle, root out, round up, rule out, scare up, scrape together, scrape up, screen, seclude, segregate, select, separate, set apart, set aside, shave, shear, sieve, sift, single out, sort out, stamp out, strike off, strip, strip off, take, take off, take out, take up, thrash, thresh, truncate, winnow, wipe out
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