Under traditional common law, mayhem consisted of malicious deprivation of the use of another's members such as to render him less able to fight. This was later extended to cover injuries that disfigured but did not disable the victim. Disablement thus involves loss of use of a major part of the body (leg, foot, arm, hand, eye, tooth or testicle), whether or not it is completely removed. Disfigurement involves alteration of the victim's face or body such as to change the normal appearance (severing or slitting the nose, lip, ear or tongue). Originally the crime was punishable by comparable mutilation.
Disfigurement of opponents is frequent amongst street gangs, notably in the USA.