mas·​sa·​cre | \ˈma-si-kər \

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\-​k(ə-​)riŋ \

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 \-​kər-​ər, -​krər \ noun

Synonyms for massacre

Synonyms: Noun

bloodbath, butchery, carnage, death, holocaust, slaughter

Synonyms: Verb

butcher, mow (down), slaughter

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If a deranged Trump fan were to get a gun and massacre Mueller’s entire team on the streets of Washington, for example, Trump would have the unquestionable legal authority to pardon the killer. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Trump’s talk of pardoning Manafort is a clear abuse of power," 29 Nov. 2018 Lobbying by executives helped limit sanctions after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 and to win support for China’s WTO entry. Lingling Wei, WSJ, "‘Bring Me Tariffs’—How Trump and Xi Drove Their Countries to the Brink of a Trade War," 28 Nov. 2018 The massacre occurred during attacks on the Rohingya by Myanmar’s army and Buddhist mobs — violence that drove hundreds of thousands of refugees into Bangladesh and has been widely characterized as ethnic cleansing. Mike Ives, New York Times, "Case Against Reuters Journalists in Myanmar Moves to Trial," 9 July 2018 News of the Thursday massacre began with a chilling tweet sent at 2:43 p.m. by a reporter at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland's capital. CBS News, "Journalists took to social media during -- and after -- deadly shooting in newsroom," 29 June 2018 The massacre of nine Black parishioners by a white supremacist at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston reignited controversy over South Carolina’s flag. Bree Newsome, SELF, "The 2018 Midterm Elections Proved That Change Must Happen from the Ground Up," 15 Nov. 2018 Randazza is also defending far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones against several families of the victims in the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, shooting, who are suing him for defamation for propagating the idea that the massacre was a hoax. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "The Satanic Temple is divided over its leader’s decision to hire Alex Jones’s lawyer," 9 Aug. 2018 Students who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in February planned the demonstration, which took place in Washington, D.C. on March 24. Kate Storey, Town & Country, "What You Need to Know About Josh Kushner, Brother to Jared (and Fiancé to Karlie Kloss)," 24 July 2018 Nathan Bedford Forrest, the prewar slave trader who presided over the massacre of black federal soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tenn., in 1864 and went on to help establish the Ku Klux Klan, was never charged with a crime. Fergus M. Bordewich, WSJ, "‘The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee’ Review: The Cost of Conciliation," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

No discriminatory intent should be inferred here; all over the place, in dioramas set up by dealers to pitch their sanguinary wares, soldiers of every nationality and ethnicity were massacring soldiers of every other nationality and ethnicity. Glenn Garvin, miamiherald, "These toy soldiers came ready to fight — but time is running out on their value," 28 Jan. 2018 Before the year was out, Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, rioting broke out during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and student demonstrators were massacred in Mexico City. New York Times, "Dystopia, Apocalypse, Culture War: 2018 or 1968?," 17 May 2018 Yet the plans have touched off a controversy with a proposal to make way for the renovation by moving the towering Katyn Memorial, a tribute to Polish soldiers massacred during World War II, that had been in the plaza since 1991. New York Times, "Jersey City Makes a Statement With Fireworks Over the Hudson," 3 July 2018 In a 2013 coup, Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi overthrew Egypt’s first democratically elected president, imprisoned thousands of dissidents and massacred more than 600 men, women and children at a peaceful sit-in near Cairo’s Rabaa al Adawiya mosque. Christopher Knight,, "How good is the King Tut exhibition? An art critic weighs in," 29 Mar. 2018 Schools were generally considered a safe haven from the outside world until 1999, when two students at Columbine High School in Colorado massacred a dozen students and a teacher. Tiffany Hsu, New York Times, "Threat of Shootings Turns School Security Into a Growth Industry," 4 Mar. 2018 The Wiyots began losing tribal lands to lumbermen and settlers in the 1850s, and dozens of tribe members were allegedly massacred in 1860 when James Buchanan was president and McKinley a teenager. Karl Rove, WSJ, "The Pitchforks Are Out for McKinley," 4 Apr. 2018 Of all the people that ISIS fought, the militants were particularly vicious toward the Yazidi, one of Iraq’s most mysterious religious minorities, who were massacred by the thousands. Tim Neville, New York Times, "A Journey Into Iraqi Kurdistan," 29 Jan. 2018 As for you, the whites are going to hunt you down, or you will get massacred fighting back. Michael Harriot, The Root, "The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: The Longest Clapback Ever," 22 June 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.

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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


Middle French


see massacre entry 1

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Statistics for massacre

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for massacre

The first known use of massacre was circa 1578

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More Definitions for massacre



English Language Learners Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the violent killing of many people

: 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)

: 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 \

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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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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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