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[mas-uh-ker] /ˈmæs ə kər/
the unnecessary, indiscriminate killing of a large number of human beings or animals, as in barbarous warfare or persecution or for revenge or plunder.
a general slaughter, as of persons or animals:
the massacre of millions during the war.
Informal. a crushing defeat, especially in sports.
verb (used with object), massacred, massacring.
to kill unnecessarily and indiscriminately, especially a large number of persons.
Informal. to defeat decisively, especially in sports.
Origin of massacre
1575-85; (noun) < Middle French massacre, noun derivative of massacrer, Old French maçacrer, macecler, probably < Vulgar Latin *matteūcculāre, verbal derivative of *matteūca mallet (see mashie, mace1); (v.) < Middle French massacrer
Related forms
[mas-uh-krer] /ˈmæs ə krər/ (Show IPA),
unmassacred, adjective
1, 2. carnage, extermination, butchery, genocide. 4. slay. See slaughter. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for massacre
  • The past and present intersect as the pair unravel a 1923 massacre.
  • Valentine's Day massacre took place, two suspects are herded into a police van.
  • The B side entrance is a serious bottleneck and it's not uncommon to see a small massacre in that end of the hallway.
  • Years later, a town has sprung up on the site of the massacre.
  • But the violence has spiraled only upward, especially the headline-grabbing massacres.
  • In this massacre he spared Chilperic's two fair daughters, then in their infancy.
  • His oration upon the massacre of the fifth of March, is distinguished for its patriotic sentiments, as well as elegance of style.
  • We all oppose the massacre of baby seals.
  • It was truly a massacre.
  • When all we do is massacre the opposition, yes it is.
British Dictionary definitions for massacre


the wanton or savage killing of large numbers of people, as in battle
(informal) an overwhelming defeat, as in a game
verb (transitive)
to kill indiscriminately or in large numbers
(informal) to defeat overwhelmingly
Derived Forms
massacrer (ˈmæsəkrə) noun
Word Origin
C16: from Old French, of unknown origin
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 massacre

1580s, from Middle French massacrer "to slaughter" (16c.), from massacre (n.) "wholesale slaughter, carnage" (see massacre (n.)). Related: Massacred; massacring.


1580s, from Middle French massacre "wholesale slaughter, carnage," from Old French macacre, macecle "slaughterhouse, butchery," of unknown origin; perhaps related to Latin macellum "provisions store, butcher shop."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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