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[slaw-ter] /ˈslɔ tər/
the killing or butchering of cattle, sheep, etc., especially for food.
the brutal or violent killing of a person.
the killing of great numbers of people or animals indiscriminately; carnage:
the slaughter of war.
verb (used with object)
to kill or butcher (animals), especially for food.
to kill in a brutal or violent manner.
to slay in great numbers; massacre.
Informal. to defeat thoroughly; trounce:
They slaughtered our team.
Origin of slaughter
1250-1300; Middle English slaghter, slahter, slauther (noun) < Old Norse slātr, earlier slāttr, slahtr
Related forms
slaughterer, noun
slaughteringly, adverb
unslaughtered, adjective
2. murder. 4–6. Slaughter, butcher, massacre all imply violent and bloody methods of killing. Slaughter and butcher, primarily referring to the killing of animals for food, are used also of the brutal or indiscriminate killing of human beings: to slaughter cattle; to butcher a hog. Massacre indicates a general slaughtering of helpless or unresisting victims: to massacre the peasants of a region. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for slaughtered
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Nearly all the enemy were slaughtered or drowned in the river Lech.

    A History of Germany Bayard Taylor
  • Even Martine had at last said that he ought to be slaughtered, if only through pity.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • Later they would be slaughtered and their carcasses exposed for sale in the market-place.

  • The voice of her weeping was like the distressful cry of the slaughtered lamb.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • And now I am hearing of one million Armenians slaughtered in cold blood.

British Dictionary definitions for slaughtered


the killing of animals, esp for food
the savage killing of a person
the indiscriminate or brutal killing of large numbers of people, as in war; massacre
(informal) a resounding defeat
verb (transitive)
to kill (animals), esp for food
to kill in a brutal manner
to kill indiscriminately or in large numbers
(informal) to defeat resoundingly
Derived Forms
slaughterer, noun
slaughterous, adjective
Word Origin
Old English sleaht; related to Old Norse slāttar hammering, slātr butchered meat, Old High German slahta, Gothic slauhts, German Schlacht battle
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 slaughtered



c.1300, "killing of a cattle or sheep for food, killing of a person," from a Scandinavian *slahtr, akin to Old Norse slatr "a butchering, butcher meat," slatra "to slaughter," slattr "a mowing" from Proto-Germanic *slukhtis, related to Old Norse sla "to strike" (see slay (v.)) + formative suffix (cf. laugh/laughter). Meaning "killing of a large number of persons in battle" is attested from mid-14c. Old English had slieht "stroke, slaughter, murder, death; animals for slaughter;" cf. sliehtswyn "pig for killing."


1530s, "butcher an animal for market," from slaughter (n.). Meaning "slay wantonly, ruthlessly, or in great numbers" is from 1580s. Related: Slaughtered; slaughtering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with slaughtered
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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