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 massacre (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

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Other Words from massacre


massacrer \ ˈma-​si-​kər-​ər How to pronounce massacre (audio) , -​krər \ noun

Examples of massacre in a Sentence

Noun The game turned out to be a complete massacre. the infamous massacre of more than 200 Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota Verb 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 Instead, the massacre inspired a wave of open terror against African Americans across the state. Christopher Frear, Smithsonian Magazine, "Meet Joseph Rainey, the First Black Congressman," 5 Jan. 2021 Many ethnic Tigrayan refugees have accused ethnic Amhara fighters of targeting them, while survivors of one massacre last month in the town of Mai-Kadra say Tigrayan fighters targeted Amhara. NBC News, "'I would never go back': Horrors grow in Ethiopia's conflict," 28 Dec. 2020 The massacre spurred a wave of international outrage over a culture of impunity surrounding private security contractors. Los Angeles Times, "Trump pardon of Blackwater killers sparks outrage in Iraq," 23 Dec. 2020 President Donald Trump has pardoned four former Blackwater security contractors who were previously convicted in the murders of civilians during the 2007 Baghdad massacre. Zoe Christen Jones, CBS News, "Trump pardons security contractors involved in Baghdad massacre," 23 Dec. 2020 Slatten and his supporters had argued that he and the other three were scapegoated by U.S. officials to assuage Iraqi public opinion, which was inflamed by what many Iraqis considered an unprovoked massacre. Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, "Trump continues to use pardons to reward allies, settle scores," 22 Dec. 2020 Since then, the parents of a woman killed in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the manufacturers of the AR-15 style rifles used by the gunman under a similar theory. Zusha Elinson, WSJ, "Gun Maker Smith & Wesson Sues New Jersey to Block Subpoena," 15 Dec. 2020 Through television, the news of such atrocities as the My Lai massacre reached directly into American living rooms, and conscientious objectors and antiwar activists appealed to international law to justify their opposition to the carnage. Anand Gopal, The New Yorker, "America’s War on Syrian Civilians," 14 Dec. 2020 This powerful and deeply civilized memoir recounts the massacre in the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, on the morning of Jan. 7, 2015. New York Times, "Times Critics’ Top Books of 2020," 2 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This kind of visibility has added to the climate of hatred that encouraged a white nationalist last year to drive ten hours to massacre twenty-three Latinx people in El Paso. Graciela Mochkofsky, The New Yorker, "It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, and the Latinx Vote Is Still Being Ignored," 14 Oct. 2020 In Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority country, thousands of Rohingya Muslims were massacred by military forces in 2017. Washington Post, "Religious minorities around the world face an uncertain future: 5 essential reads," 19 Dec. 2019 The finds were uncovered at three sites in the Arnsberg forest, where members of the Waffen-SS and German army massacred 208 Polish and Russian forced laborers in March 1945, just before the end of World War II. Fox News, "Auschwitz discovery: Secret items hidden by prisoners found at concentration camp site," 21 May 2020 In July 1995 Bosnian Serb authorities massacred more than eight thousand Muslim prisoners at Srebrenica, a slaughter that provoked public outrage in Europe and the US. Steve Coll, The New York Review of Books, "The Struggle for Better," 13 May 2020 Last week, a gunman massacred dozens of congregants in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul after storming a Sikh temple. Philip Heijmans,, "How the World’s Hot Spots Are Festering in Times of Coronavirus," 10 May 2020 The remaining leadership of the Confederacy of Independent Systems were massacred at Mustafar, and a new Galactic Empire had supplanted its democracy-loving forebear. Zarnon Kalgon, Popular Mechanics, "Why the X-Wing Is Such a Badass Spaceplane," 4 May 2020 In the 14th century the Jews were accused of poisoning the wells and were massacred by the thousands. David Kipen, Los Angeles Times, "Q&A: Author Cynthia Ozick will spend her 92nd birthday ‘contemplating mayhem’," 8 Apr. 2020 In one night the neighborhood was pillaged and set ablaze, its people massacred. Nehemiah D. Frank, Time, "Researchers Have Found Evidence of Mass Graves From the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Here's Why That News Is Bittersweet for My Community," 18 Dec. 2019

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

Noun and Verb

Middle French

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Time Traveler for massacre

Time Traveler

The first known use of massacre was circa 1578

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Statistics for massacre

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Massacre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for massacre


How to pronounce massacre (audio)

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

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