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

Hearing of the massacre, a brigade of Jewish partisans sent a number of their resistance fighters to give the dead a proper burial. Eric Adler, kansascity, "Mother pushed daughter off train to save her from Nazis. This song tells their story | The Kansas City Star," 10 May 2018 The only major action Mr. Trump has taken on gun control since being elected was to ban bump stocks, devices that make semiautomatic rifles fire like machine guns and which were used in the Las Vegas massacre. Zusha Elinson, WSJ, "Trump Heads to NRA Convention as Disagreements Over His Gun Policies Simmer," 25 Apr. 2019 Say, Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the school massacre in Parkland, Fla. Or Oscar Walters, the Louisville man who fired an air rifle at police and fought with them before being taken alive last week. Marcos Bretón, sacbee, "Face it, you just may not believe in Martin Luther King Jr. | The Sacramento Bee," 4 Apr. 2018 The group organized or inspired a spate of attacks on French soil, including the November 2015 massacre of 130 people in Paris, and its Syrian presence was a common destination for Islamist radicals from France. Sam Schechner, WSJ, "French Police Hunt for Gunman in Strasbourg Attack," 12 Dec. 2018 Consider Glover's dancing, presumably choreographed to mimic a minstrel character; the murder of choir singers, evoking the Charleston church massacre; and death riding in on a white horse. Sonia Rao,, "A new era of political music videos is born," 14 June 2018 Opponents seized on Vedanta’s London stockmarket listing to exert pressure. John McDonnell, shadow chancellor of the exchequer for the opposition Labour party, called the shooting a massacre and demanding Vedanta shares be delisted. The Economist, "Shootings in India tarnish Vedanta’s reputation," 31 May 2018 When Kris Workman, who was paralyzed from the Nov. 5 Sutherland Springs church massacre and now uses a wheelchair, asked Abbott what course of action should be taken. Silvia Foster-frau And Andrea Zelinski, San Antonio Express-News, "Families from Texas’ most recent mass shootings come together," 24 May 2018 The massacre and its quickness recall the 2015 Charleston shooting in which white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black people in a church basement, Ramsey says. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "An Expert's Take on the Symbolism in Childish Gambino’s Viral ‘This Is America’ Video," 7 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

June 4, 1989, was a seminal day for China’s faithful, as the Chinese government massacred thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Nina Shea And Bob Fu, WSJ, "Inside China’s War on Christians," 30 May 2019 After a hard day of massacring Thracians, what better way to unwind than to read yet again how Achilles atop his chariot dragged Hector’s lifeless body around the walls of Troy? Gregg Opelka, WSJ, "Putin’s Less-Than-Epic Mueller Retort," 7 May 2019 An Ohio man accused of hiding his membership in a Serbian special police unit that massacred more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims during the 1995 genocide will leave the U.S. as part of his sentencing. Fox News, "Man suspected of Bosnian war crimes will leave US," 29 May 2018 More than 100,000 civilians had been massacred by the retreating Japanese army. Alex Kingsbury,, "You’ve got mail — for now," 10 May 2018 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

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

6 Jun 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).


showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

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!