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noun ho·lo·caust \ˈhō-lə-ˌkȯst, ˈhä- also -ˌkäst or ˈhȯ-lə-kȯst\

Simple Definition of holocaust

  • the Holocaust : the killing of millions of Jews and other people by the Nazis during World War II

  • : an event or situation in which many people are killed and many things are destroyed especially by fire

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of holocaust

  1. 1 :  a sacrifice consumed by fire

  2. 2 :  a thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life especially through fire <a nuclear holocaust>

  3. 3 a often capitalized :  the mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II —usually used with the b :  a mass slaughter of people; especially :  genocide

Examples of holocaust in a sentence

  1. The museum is devoted to the Holocaust.

  2. There were fears of a nuclear holocaust.

Did You Know?

The Greek word holokaustos means "burnt whole". For the early Jews who followed the laws given in the first books of the Bible, a holocaust was a sacrifice to God, the burning on an altar of a lamb, goat, or young bull. The word is used about 200 times in the traditional Greek version of the Old Testament, though it rarely appears in English translations. In the 1700s holocaust began to be used to refer to the mass destruction of life. But no mass murder in Western history ever approached the scale achieved by the Nazis. As many as 6 million Jews may have died at their hands; when the slaughter of non-Jews is included, the number of murdered victims may have amounted to over 15 million.

Origin and Etymology of holocaust

Middle English, from Late Latin holocaustum, from Greek holokauston, from neuter of holokaustos burnt whole, from hol- + kaustos burnt, from kaiein to burn — more at caustic

First Known Use: 13th century

HOLOCAUST Defined for Kids


noun ho·lo·caust \ˈhä-lə-ˌkȯst, ˈhō-lə-\

Definition of holocaust for Students

  1. 1 :  a complete destruction especially by fire

  2. 2 often cap :  the killing of civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II

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