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

Also, the commission agreed Tuesday that Cruz’s 2013 participation in the Broward County school district’s Promise Program played no part in the massacre. Terry Spencer, The Seattle Times, "Official: Florida shooting suspect’s mom let him buy gun," 10 July 2018 Emma took full control of the ferry and ranch operations in 1877 when Lee was executed for his role in the massacre. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Lees Ferry: Gateway to Grand Canyon rafting and the Colorado River," 9 July 2018 The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre has drawn a field of candidates with strong ties to the school, but none are receiving support from the Broward Teachers Union. Scott Travis,, "Teachers union not endorsing any candidate with ties to Stoneman Douglas," 12 July 2018 The footage was part of the eighth release by police of heartbreakingly graphic sights and sounds of the massacre and its aftermath. CBS News, "Video shows police officer hesitating during Las Vegas shooting," 3 July 2018 In these nine pages, Orange does a reality check on American history, sharing the true accounts of massacres and beheadings, of cultural annihilation and appropriation (sports team mascots, anyone?). Joan Gaylord, The Christian Science Monitor, "'There There' weaves a powerful tale of contemporary urban Native Americans," 2 July 2018 The developer of a school shooting video game condemned by parents of the Parkland shooting massacre and others has lost the ability to sell its products online after being dumped by PayPal. Dave Collins,, "PayPal pulls plug on 'Active Shooter' video game decried by Parkland survivors," 20 June 2018 Roof's June 2015 massacre happened at Emanuel AME church, and the synagogue the FBI said McDowell threatened was the Temple Emanu-El. Fox News, "Man who said he planned church attack gets nearly 3 years," 13 July 2018 That Valentine's Day massacre left 14 students and three adults dead. Lori Higgins And Janea Wilson, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan student activists take on voter registration, gun violence," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 A day after a mass shooting rocked the small Galveston County city of Santa Fe, the small community is just starting to grapple with the grief after a teenage gunman massacred 10 of his classmates and teachers, and wounded 10 others. Maggie Gordon, Houston Chronicle, "Here’s what we know about the Santa Fe victims so far," 19 May 2018 This obscene masquerade does not come as a surprise from the Syrian government, which has massacred and gassed its own people for the last seven years,’’ said France’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Philippe Lalliot. Mike Corder,, "Russia parades Syrian ‘witnesses’ to disprove gas attack," 26 Apr. 2018 But the military has contended that the militant organization massacred civilians in addition to waging coordinated attacks against police and military outposts. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Rohingya Militants Massacred Civilians in Myanmar: Amnesty Report," 22 May 2018 The United States has its own history of dehumanizing populations in order to enslave and massacre them. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Why Tyrants Dehumanize the Powerless," 20 June 2018 The talk was meant to find solutions to the singularly American problem of people going haywire and massacring others with semi-automatic rifles. Dan Sweeney,, "Power Lunch: Stoneman Douglas students leave legislators with lots to do," 22 Feb. 2018 Sitting Bull was killed mid-December; later that same month, the 7th Cavalry Regiment would massacre over 150 Lakota Indians, at Wounded Knee. K. Austin Collins, HWD, "Review: Woman Walks Ahead Proves Good Intentions Don’t Make a Good Movie," 29 June 2018 In 1974, the group massacred 18 people, including nine children, in Kiryat Shemona during the Passover holiday. Jewish Journal, "Shin Bet confirms it thwarted attempts on lives of Israeli leaders," 5 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

12 Sep 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

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an open space surrounded by woods

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