euthanasia

noun

eu·​tha·​na·​sia ˌyü-thə-ˈnā-zh(ē-)ə How to pronounce euthanasia (audio)
: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (such as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy
euthanasic adjective

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Where does euthanasia come from?

Euthanasia is a mass noun (or noncount noun), that is, a noun used only in the singular form.

The word comes from the Greek euthanatos, which means “easy death.” In English, euthanasia has been used in exactly this sense since the early seventeenth century, when Francis Bacon described the phenomenon as “after the fashion and semblance of a kindly & pleasant sleepe.” Nowadays, the word usually refers to the means of attaining such a death.

Examples of euthanasia in a Sentence

a physician who refuses to practice euthanasia
Recent Examples on the Web This film includes discussions about euthanasia, which is always a hot-button issue. Jamie Lang, Variety, 17 May 2024 Little, despite his early enthusiasm for eugenics and euthanasia, was revered in the world of cancer research. Nicholas Florko, STAT, 13 May 2024 According to the Shelter Animals Count’s national database, more than 359,000 dogs and 330,000 cats were euthanized last year — the highest rate for dog euthanasia in the past five years. Caleb Lunetta, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 May 2024 American Pets Alive!, a shelter program and advocacy group that urges the end of unnecessary euthanasia of shelter animals, says about 1 to 2 percent of even its total dog intake is euthanized for behavioral reasons. Monica Potts, ABC News, 8 May 2024 Shortly after, Holly informed Haas that an injury on one of the pigs had become infected to the point where the vet recommended euthanasia. Claudia Levens, Journal Sentinel, 8 May 2024 Nothing says love like a mangled horse being trucked away for euthanasia. Kathy Guillermo, The Mercury News, 3 May 2024 California law does not require public animal shelters to publish euthanasia data, but that soon could change. Andrew Sheeler, Sacramento Bee, 22 Apr. 2024 On assisted dying, the document reiterated the church’s opposition to euthanasia. Christopher Lamb, CNN, 8 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'euthanasia.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Greek, easy death, from euthanatos, from eu- + thanatos death — more at thanatos

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of euthanasia was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near euthanasia

Cite this Entry

“Euthanasia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/euthanasia. Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

euthanasia

noun
eu·​tha·​na·​sia ˌyü-thə-ˈnā-zh(ē-)ə How to pronounce euthanasia (audio)
: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured persons or animals with as little pain as possible for reasons of mercy

called also mercy killing

Medical Definition

euthanasia

noun
eu·​tha·​na·​sia ˌyü-thə-ˈnā-zh(ē-)ə How to pronounce euthanasia (audio)
: the act or practice of causing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (such as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy

called also mercy killing

Legal Definition

euthanasia

noun
eu·​tha·​na·​sia ˌyü-thə-ˈnā-zhə How to pronounce euthanasia (audio)
: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured persons in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy

called also mercy killing

euthanasic adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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