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. (april 2017)
a guillotine (/ ghil-ə-teen, also / ghee-, french: [ɡijɔtin] (listen)) is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading. the device consists of a tall, upright frame with a weighted and angled blade suspended at the top. the condemned person is secured with stocks at the bottom of the frame, positioning the neck directly below the blade. the blade is then released, swiftly and forcefully decapitating the victim with a single, clean pass so that the head falls into a basket or other receptacle below.
the guillotine is best known for its use in france, in particular during the french revolution, where the revolution's supporters celebrated it as the people's avenger and the revolution's opponents vilified it as the pre-eminent symbol of the violence of the reign of terror. while the name "guillotine" dates from this period, similar devices had been in use elsewhere in europe over several centuries. the display of severed heads had long been one of the most common ways european sovereigns exhibited their power to their subjects.
the guillotine was invented with the specific intention of making capital punishment more humane in accordance with enlightenment ideals, as previous methods of execution in france had proven to be substantially more painful and prone to error. after its adoption, the device remained france's standard method of judicial execution until the abolition of capital punishment in 1981. the last person to be executed in france was hamida djandoubi, who was guillotined on 10 september 1977. this was also the last time that the government of a western nation ever executed an individual by beheading. djandoubi was also the last person ever executed by guillotine by any government in the world.