mas·​sa·​cre | \ ˈma-si-kər How to pronounce massacre (audio) \

Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty witnessed the massacre of a boatload of refugees
2 : a cruel or wanton (see wanton entry 1 sense 1a) murder
3 : a wholesale slaughter of animals Residents engaged in a citywide cat massacre.
4 : an act of complete destruction the author's massacre of traditional federalist presuppositions— R. G. McCloskey the Puritan massacre of statues and pictures— Robert Hughes


massacred; massacring\ ˈma-​si-​k(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce massacring (audio) \

Definition of massacre (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to kill by massacre
2 : mangle sense 2 words were misspelled and syntax massacred— Bice Clemow

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Other Words from massacre


massacrer \ ˈma-​si-​kər-​ər How to pronounce massacrer (audio) , -​krər \ noun

Examples of massacre in a Sentence

Noun The game turned out to be a complete massacre. the infamous massacre of more than 200 Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota Verb Hundreds have been massacred in the uprising. The other team really massacred us on Saturday. He really massacred that song.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun They've been brutally put down in Tiananmen-Square-style massacres that the press has not been covering. NBC News, "Meet the Press - January 12, 2020," 12 Jan. 2020 Meanwhile, occupation forces committed scores of atrocities in both countries — some the typical concomitants of war, some simply gratuitous crimes, as in the torture dungeon at Abu Ghraib and the Nisour Square massacre. Ryan Cooper, TheWeek, "Bernie Sanders is America's best hope for a sane foreign policy," 7 Jan. 2020 Soldiers pillaged indigenous communities, raped women and girls, and stole children who survived massacres, putting hundreds up for adoption. Rachel Nolan, The New Yorker, "A Translation Crisis at the Border," 30 Dec. 2019 The massacre is widely seen by historians as one of the worst incidents of white supremacist violence in American history. Fox News, "Searching for Tulsa race riot graves, archaeologists find possible new evidence," 19 Dec. 2019 So two of the underlying causes of the Fort Hood massacre five years ago — unarmed warriors, and unidentified human time bombs — are still with us. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 19 Dec. 2019 That's a process that took a clear vision (making a show at least in part to illuminate the 1921 Tulsa massacre and ponder US history's oversight through a superhero lens) and lots of thought. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Watchmen, not Game of Thrones, proved to be HBO’s show of the decade," 16 Dec. 2019 Over the next two years, the occupation would escalate from mandatory Japanese classes to indiscriminate massacres. National Geographic, "In WWII, the Japanese invaded Guam. Now they’re welcomed as tourists.," 13 Dec. 2019 A few months later, the massacre that ended demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing reinforced to the world the Chinese government’s image as a brutal dictatorship. The Economist, "The subdued fringe China’s successful repression in Tibet provides a model for Xinjiang," 11 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In Todos Santos, which was then a small cluster of adobe houses, the Army openly massacred Mam families, intending to terrorize the population. Rachel Nolan, The New Yorker, "A Translation Crisis at the Border," 30 Dec. 2019 Like so many wildlife species in the 1800s, commercial interests massacred sea otters to near extinction; about 150 were discovered by accident in the 1930s at a nursery area near Bixby Creek at Big Sur. Tom Stienstra,, "Marine Mammal Protection Act has helped shark, seal, otter populations surge," 12 Oct. 2019 Johnson massacred five law enforcement officers in an ambush-style attack at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. Trish Choate, USA TODAY, "Texas gun laws: What happens when ‘good guys’ have guns?," 24 Oct. 2019 After a shot was fired, violence broke out and hundreds of black people were massacred. CBS News, "Possible mass grave from 1921 Tulsa race massacre found: "For decades it was hush hush"," 17 Dec. 2019 Americans massacred at Malmedy An SS Panzer unit slaughtered American POWs in a field near Malmedy, Belgium. Nick Hollkamp, The Courier-Journal, "8 things to know about The Battle of the Bulge ahead of its 75th anniversary," 16 Dec. 2019 During the intense pre-invasion bombing, the Japanese massacred scores of people in caves, forests, and on busses. National Geographic, "In WWII, the Japanese invaded Guam. Now they’re welcomed as tourists.," 13 Dec. 2019 On Sunday, news broke that a video of a fake President Donald Trump massacring journalists and others had been shown during a conference at one of the president’s resorts last week. Alice Wilder, ProPublica, "Listen to Conference-Goers at Trump Resort Chant for “War!”," 15 Oct. 2019 The president, who allowed Khashoggi to be cut into pieces, without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks,’’ Robertson said., "Minneapolis officials told the Target Center it would be responsible for the $530,000 the city says it will need to beef up security. The arena then passed the bill along to the Trump campaign and said the campaign would have to pay it, or it could not use the arena.," 9 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'massacre.' 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 massacre


circa 1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for massacre

Noun and Verb

Middle French

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Time Traveler for massacre

Time Traveler

The first known use of massacre was circa 1578

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Statistics for massacre

Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Massacre.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for massacre


How to pronounce massacre (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the violent killing of many people
informal : a game or competition in which one person or team easily defeats another



English Language Learners Definition of massacre (Entry 2 of 2)

: to violently kill (a group of people)
informal : to easily defeat (someone or something)
: to do (something) very badly : to ruin (something) because of lack of skill


mas·​sa·​cre | \ ˈma-sə-kər How to pronounce massacre (audio) \

Kids Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the violent and cruel killing of a large number of people


massacred; massacring

Kids Definition of massacre (Entry 2 of 2)

: to kill a large number of people in a violent and cruel manner

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Comments on massacre

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


good-natured easy friendliness

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