Definition of holocaust
1 : a sacrifice (see 1sacrifice 2) consumed by fire
2 : a thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life especially through fire <a nuclear holocaust>
3a often capitalized : the mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II —usually used with the <Several members of her family died in the holocaust.>b : a mass slaughter of people; especially : genocide <a holocaust in Rwanda>
Examples of holocaust in a sentence
The museum is devoted to the Holocaust.
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 English Language Learners
Definition of holocaust for English Language Learners
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
HOLOCAUST Defined for Kids
Definition of holocaust for Students
1 : a complete destruction especially by fire
2 often cap : the killing of civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II
Learn More about holocaust
See words that rhyme with holocaust Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for holocaust Spanish Central: Translation of holocaust Nglish: Translation of holocaust for Spanish speakers Britannica English: Translation of holocaust for Arabic speakers Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about holocaust
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