Waist chop or waist cutting (simplified Chinese: 腰斩; traditional Chinese: 腰斬; pinyin: Yāo zhǎn), also known as cutting in two at the waist, was a form of execution used in ancient China. As its name implies, it involved the condemned being sliced in two at the waist by an executioner.
Waist chopping first appeared during the Zhou dynasty (c. 1046 BC – 256 BC). There were three forms of execution used in the Zhou dynasty: chēliè (車裂; quartering the prisoner alive), zhǎn (斬; waist chop), and shā (殺; beheading). Sometimes, the chopping was not limited to one slice.
The first Ming dynasty emperor Zhu Yuanzhang sentenced the poet Gao Qi to be sliced into eight parts for his politically satirical writing.
In the modern Chinese language, "waist chop" has evolved to become a metaphor for the cancellation of an ongoing project, especially cancellation of television programs.