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 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 But comparisons to the Nazis are insulting to the millions murdered & countless others who still feel the holocaust’s impact. Darrel Rowland, Cincinnati.com, "Wife of Ohio state senator compares Dr. Amy Acton statement with Nazi mandates," 23 Apr. 2020 Apocalyptic bug-in plans require emergency stores of water, but staying home for a few weeks isn’t quite nuclear holocaust: why, then, were shoppers filling entire carts with cases upon cases of Poland Spring? Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, "We Are All Irrational Panic Shoppers," 5 Mar. 2020 But the Democrats’ usual tactics are terrifyingly insufficient when they’re deployed in response to business interests and reactionary politicians opting into a holocaust in the best interests of a market. David Roth, The New Republic, "America’s Diseased Politics," 24 Mar. 2020 Between the speeches, music was played by Szymon Laks, the Polish-French composer and holocaust survivor who was head of the Auschwitz inmates’ orchestra set up by the SS to entertain the camp’s wardens. Bojan Pancevski, WSJ, "Israeli President Warns of Mounting Anti-Semitism in Europe," 29 Jan. 2020 Born to Armenian immigrants, both survivors of the Armenian holocaust, Harry made sure his entire family appreciated Armenian music and culture. courant.com, "Harry A. Egazarian," 24 Sep. 2019 Or Roger Zelazny’s Hugo Award–winning This Immortal (here published under Zelazny’s preferred title, And Call Me Conrad) describing a post–nuclear holocaust Earth populated by both prewar cultures and new, mutant ones. Scott Bradfield, The New Republic, "Science Fiction’s Wonderful Mistakes," 16 Dec. 2019 She is predeceased by Leroy her husband of 61 years, her brother Girard who died as a child in Persia, her sister Ruth Hirsch of the UK, and most of her family who perished in the holocaust. courant.com, "Gabriele Alice Dunn," 17 Oct. 2019

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

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Holocaust.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holocaust. Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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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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