"execute by electricity," 1889, American English, from electro- + back half of execute. The method first was used Aug. 6, 1890, in New York state, on William Kemmler, convicted of the murder of his common-law wife. In reference to accidental death by 1909. Electric chair is also first recorded 1889, the year the one used on Kemmler was introduced in New York as a humane alternative to hanging. Related: Electrocuted; electrocuting.