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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

After the massacre in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer, the company upped the ante, donating 100 percent of its proceeds to charities supporting the victims’ families and raising at least $40,000 in the course of a few weeks. Zoe Weiner, Allure, "Lipslut Raised $100,000 in Two Weeks to Help Separated Migrant Families [UPDATE]," 10 July 2018 Janet Barton, presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, wrote an op-ed in The Arizona Republic saying there was nothing the court could have done to prevent Jones' massacre. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Messy Family Court battles can crush souls, stir rage, sometimes ignite violence," 17 June 2018 This special focuses on the Jonestown massacre, the largest mass murder-suicide in modern history. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "What’s on TV Friday: ‘Operation Thai Cave Rescue’ and Jim Jefferies," 13 July 2018 Even years after Jones engineered the November 1978 massacre of more than 900 persons in Guyana, Thrash did not doubt his healing abilities. Will Higgins, Indianapolis Star, "She woke up in Jonestown — everyone was dead," 13 July 2018 Four decades have passed since the Blackfriars massacre, in which five men were brutally murdered at a lounge on Summer Street in Boston. Emily Sweeney,, "Four decades have passed since five men were found dead at the Blackfriars Pub in Boston," 12 July 2018 The deadliest school shooting in Florida history resulted in continued scrutiny of law enforcement response to the massacre, a wave of student activism over gun control and a state law offering some new limits on firearm purchases. Nicholas Nehamas And David Ovalle, miamiherald, "‘I can go shoot them.’ Another threat from Parkland school shooter went ignored.," 11 July 2018 Medina was in the news again last week after his video testimony about the massacre circulated, with some families of the Parkland victims demanding that the monitor, who was unarmed on the day of the massacre, be fired for his lack of action. Anne Branigin, The Root, "Parkland, Fla., School Monitor Who Didn’t Confront Shooter Was Accused of Sexually Harassing Students: Report," 15 June 2018 On April 4, 2017, the Syrian regime conducted another sarin-gas massacre, killing some 100 people. James Taranto, WSJ, "Obama’s ‘Red Line’ Debacle From the Inside," 8 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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


Middle French


see massacre entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about massacre

Statistics for massacre

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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

: 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

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).


one that holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!