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


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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 No doubt an embodiment of Japan’s anxiety about a nuclear holocaust, Godzilla represented the Earth retaliating against technology overextending its reach. Brooke Knisley, Vulture, "9 Eco-Horror Movies That Will Remind You to Be Nicer to the Earth," 22 Apr. 2021 Also a guest was Gina Carano (Cecily Strong), whom Disney recently fired from The Mandalorian for controversial social media posts that included comparing being a Republican now to being Jewish during the holocaust. Anna Chan, Billboard, "'Saturday Night Live' Mocks Justin Timberlake's '20 Years Late' Apology to Britney Spears in Cold Open," 21 Feb. 2021 Many people who did not grow up with the threat of a nuclear holocaust now face a future of climate chaos. Rebecca Tuhus-dubrow, The New Yorker, "The Activists Who Embrace Nuclear Power," 19 Feb. 2021 Eden began as a supercomputer, and as a nuclear holocaust scorched the planet and American democracy fell into tatters, the AI became fascinated with American history and the biographies of presidents. Washington Post, "The best presidents in video games," 20 Jan. 2021 Legendary British actor Peter Sellers plays three roles in Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy about an insane general who triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al, "Movie and TV presidents we’d vote for, and others we’d impeach," 3 Nov. 2020 Whether this is a temporary inconvenience or the start of a nuclear holocaust is impossible to guess, as the story is largely confined to the apartment, where the characters speculate on events by candlelight and haltingly carry on with the party. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: Into the Darkness With Don DeLillo," 16 Oct. 2020 Its telling of the holocaust story is one of the Chicago region’s most compelling and haunting museum exhibitions. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Illinois Holocaust Museum’s ‘Notorious RBG’ exhibit could serve as memorial for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg," 18 Sep. 2020 Specifically, military strategists wanted to know how to inflict the most effective nuclear holocaust for the least amount of money. Adam Rogers, Wired, "How Much Is a Human Life Actually Worth?," 10 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for holocaust

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

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Statistics for holocaust

Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Holocaust.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holocaust. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for holocaust



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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