ho·​lo·​caust | \ ˈhō-lə-ˌkȯst How to pronounce holocaust (audio) , ˈhä- also -ˌkäst or ˈhȯ-lə-kȯst\

Definition of holocaust

1 : a sacrifice (see sacrifice entry 1 sense 2) consumed by fire
2 : a thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life especially through fire a nuclear holocaust
3a usually the Holocaust : the mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II Several members of her family died in the Holocaust. a Holocaust survivor
b : a mass slaughter of people especially : genocide a holocaust in Rwanda

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Synonyms for holocaust


conflagration, fire, inferno

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Examples of holocaust in a Sentence

The museum is devoted to the Holocaust. There were fears of a nuclear holocaust.

Recent Examples on the Web

In those Cold War years, many Mormons believed the apocalypse was imminent, in the form of a nuclear holocaust. Wired, "The Suburbanites Making the Desert Bloom with McMansions," 12 Sep. 2019 The claim that atheists were the cause of these holocausts is false. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: The real danger; Where is the integrity in the Judicial Department?; Atheism not a belief system (8/8/19)," 8 Aug. 2019 The fact that nobody bothers to notice old women or the everyday holocaust of animal life turns out to be the novel’s crowning irony. Julian Lucas, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 22 July 2019 Bond is the man who saves the world from a nuclear holocaust by the turn of a screwdriver or pressing the right button on a control panel. André Millard, Smithsonian, "In Battles of Man Versus Machine, James Bond Always Wins," 12 July 2019 South and North warred over its meaning, but the universal veneration of the national charter survived even that holocaust. Thomas Wendel, National Review, "The Beginning of a Nation," 4 July 2019 On the same floor, guests can see the top of a three-story long butterfly sculpture where each butterfly represents 1,000 children of the 1.5 million children in the holocaust. Samantha Lopez, Houston Chronicle, "Houston Holocaust Museum re-opens as fourth largest of its kind in nation," 21 June 2019 Chang was appalled that a holocaust that killed more people than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined remains relatively unknown, and ultimately became one of the massacre’s extended victims, succumbing to depression and taking her own life in 2004. Brian Lamb, WSJ, "Five Best: Brian Lamb on Books That Pack a Punch," 14 June 2019 The Texas Senator upset that holocaust denier, Arthur Jones has won the Republican nomination for Illinois third Congressional district. Fox News, "Judge Jeanine: The rise of socialism," 1 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'holocaust.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of holocaust

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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Statistics for holocaust

Last Updated

28 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for holocaust

The first known use of holocaust was in the 13th century

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English Language Learners Definition of 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


ho·​lo·​caust | \ ˈhä-lə-ˌkȯst How to pronounce holocaust (audio) , ˈhō-lə-\

Kids Definition of holocaust

1 : a complete destruction especially by fire
2 often capitalized : the killing of civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II

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Comments on holocaust

What made you want to look up holocaust? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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