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

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 Some of the worst massacres in modern history have followed the ouster of strongmen. James Stavridis, Time, "Democracy Isn't Perfect, But It Will Still Prevail," 12 July 2018 The Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016 happened during this stretch. Steve Contorno, miamiherald, "New information shows deeper problems with bungled concealed-weapon background checks," 6 July 2018 Sandi Marti planned to spend her day Tuesday — which marked two years since the massacre that claimed 49 lives at Pulse nightclub — at the Pulse memorial with her wife, Carry. Bianca Padró Ocasio,, "Killer 'never made any threats' to 4 children found dead after standoff, Orlando Police chief says," 13 June 2018 Organizers behind the event -- National Die-In Day -- said those 720 seconds symbolized the approximate number of people killed in mass shootings in the United States since the Pulse nightclub massacre on June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida. Angela Barajas, CNN, "Students lead calls for gun law reform on National Die-In Day," 12 June 2018 The 110 memorials that have been removed since the Charleston massacre include 47 monuments and four flags. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "At Least 110 Confederate Monuments and Symbols Have Been Removed Since 2015," 9 June 2018 The group has been vocal in the national push for gun control since the massacre that left 17 people dead at the Parkland high school on Valentine's Day. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Officers respond to home of Parkland survivor David Hogg after possible "SWATting" hoax," 5 June 2018 Mark Wilson/Getty Images Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has set up a commission to study school safety in the aftermath of mass shootings like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida, in February. German Lopez, Vox, "Betsy DeVos’s federal school safety commission won’t look at guns," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

24 Oct 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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playful or foolish behavior

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