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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from massacre


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

Synonyms for massacre

Synonyms: Noun

bloodbath, butchery, carnage, death, holocaust, slaughter

Synonyms: Verb

butcher, mow (down), slaughter

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of massacre in a Sentence


The game turned out to be a complete massacre. the infamous massacre of more than 200 Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota


Hundreds have been massacred in the uprising. The other team really massacred us on Saturday. He really massacred that song.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There is so little research on the effectiveness of school safety measures that the Department of Justice began offering research grants after the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "I went to a huge conference on school safety. No one wanted to talk about gun control.," 30 July 2018 Liu Xiaobo was a writer and a prominent voice during the democratic movement which led to the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. Danielle Paquette, Washington Post, "Liu Xia, widow of Chinese dissident poet, freed from house arrest, leaves China," 10 July 2018 Add to that paradox a president who sees guns not as a problem, but a solution to school massacres. Ron Grossman,, "The nation's divide over guns is a disturbing echo of the past," 11 June 2018 In other words, this past week amounted to the latest iteration of the administration’s style-over-substance approach to school massacres. Alia Wong, The Atlantic, "The Trump Administration's Approach to School Violence Is More Style Than Substance," 2 June 2018 That's how much, per month, Scot Peterson -- the former school resource officer criticized for his response to the Parkland, Florida, school massacre -- is receiving in his state pension. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things for May 17: White House, Niger ambush video, world population," 17 May 2018 The new law, passed in response to the Parkland massacre, bans bump stocks, increases the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 and places a three-day waiting period on all firearm sales. Gray Rohrer,, "Gov. Scott not attending NRA convention," 3 May 2018 So far, the archaeological team from the NTS has traced the remains of cottages made of turf and stone at the former settlements to the massacre of 1692, Alison Campsie reports for The Scotsman. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Archaeologists Trace ‘Lost Settlements’ of 1692 Glencoe Massacre," 26 Mar. 2018 The Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 had more of a direct impact on Remington, as one of its Bushmaster rifles was used in that massacre. David Meyer, Fortune, "Remington, the U.S.'s Oldest Gunmaker, Just Filed for Bankruptcy," 26 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Jordan occupied the West Bank and massacred or expelled every Jew in the area, took their homes and destroyed their synagogues. Eugene Kontorovich, WSJ, "Airbnb’s Anti-Israel Hypocrisy," 25 Nov. 2018 In 1944, German forces massacred 642 residents of the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane., "This day in history," 9 June 2018 Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old former student who returned on Valentine’s Day to massacre his former classmates, had problems with mental illness. Mary Ellen Klas And Elizabeth Koh, miamiherald, "‘Our message is very simple. Never again.’ Douglas High students march on Tallahassee," 21 Feb. 2018 When the Islamic Sate group swept into northern Iraq in 2014, the militants massacred thousands of Yazidi men and enslaved an estimated 7,000 women and girls. Sinan Salaheddin, The Seattle Times, "Nobel laureate returns to Iraq, pledges to work for peace," 12 Dec. 2018 Then, a gunman massacred 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. James Freeman, WSJ, "Pittsburgh and the Press," 30 Oct. 2018 The military has reportedly burned entire villages, massacred men, women, and children, and engaged in systematic rape. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Time’s 2018 Person of the Year is Jamal Khashoggi and other “Guardians” of the truth," 11 Dec. 2018 And 58 concert goers massacred, hundreds of people injured, and now Mandalay Bay is turning the tables on the Las Vegas victims. Fox News, "Browder 'appalled' by White House reaction to Putin request," 19 July 2018 The father massacred seven people; his boys killed five others. New York Times, "At the Heart of Indonesia Terror Attacks, a Well-Liked Family," 18 May 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about massacre

Statistics for massacre

Last Updated

11 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for massacre

The first known use of massacre was circa 1578

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for massacre



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on massacre

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for massacre

Spanish Central: Translation of massacre

Nglish: Translation of massacre for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of massacre for Arabic Speakers

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).


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!