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[hek-uh-tohm, -toom] /ˈhɛk əˌtoʊm, -ˌtum/
(in ancient Greece and Rome) a public sacrifice of 100 oxen to the gods.
any great slaughter:
the hecatombs of modern wars.
Origin of hecatomb
1585-95; < Latin hecatombē < Greek hekatómbē < *hekatombwā, equivalent to hékaton one hundred + *-bwā, taken to be a derivative of boûs ox (see cow1) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hecatomb
Historical Examples
  • The hunter turns faint, sick, as he contemplates this hecatomb of corpses.

    The Death Shot Mayne Reid
  • He escorted Chryseis on board and sent moreover a hecatomb for the god.

    The Iliad Homer
  • For they sell a small pot of fish for as much as a hecatomb of sheep and all the accessories of sacrifice.

  • They would first make a hecatomb of their hated foes, and then fall upon it.

    The Lone Ranche Captain Mayne Reid
  • We have already noted the fable that his enthusiasm over this discovery led him to sacrifice a hecatomb.

  • Make a hecatomb of the present Hamleys all at once, while you are about it.

    Wives and Daughters Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • He then vowed a hecatomb and sacred games in honour of the god, and ordered his officers to arrange the men in line of battle.

  • Pile up, high as heaven, your hecatomb of victims, offered to the God of love.

    The Spanish Brothers Deborah Alcock
  • The hecatomb of the weak is enormous, but that matters little so long as the victors' reward be effectual and certain.

    The Life of the Bee Maurice Maeterlinck
  • Yearly will Charless Bath claim its hecatomb; I know not why.

    My Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum Herman Charles Merivale
British Dictionary definitions for hecatomb


/ˈhɛkəˌtəʊm; -ˌtuːm/
(in ancient Greece or Rome) any great public sacrifice and feast, originally one in which 100 oxen were sacrificed
a great sacrifice
Word Origin
C16: from Latin hecatombē, from Greek hekatombē, from hekaton hundred + bous ox
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hecatomb

1590s, from Greek hekatombe "offering of 100 oxen," but generally "a great public sacrifice," from hekaton "one hundred" (perhaps from hen, neuter of eis "one" + *katon "hundred") + bous "ox." The first month of the Attic calendar (corresponding to July-August) was Hekatombaion, in which sacrifices were made.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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