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

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Other Words from massacre


massacrer \ ˈma-​si-​kər-​ər How to pronounce massacrer (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 The stakes grew after the deadly massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, where some users uploaded videos of the attacks in ways that evaded tech companies’ censors. Washington Post, "Facebook unveils charter for its ‘Supreme Court,’ where users can go to contest the company’s decisions," 17 Sep. 2019 Mass shooters don’t commit massacres in the NRA’s name, or for the purpose of advancing its particular political agenda. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The NRA Is Not a Domestic Terrorist Organization," 17 Sep. 2019 That shooting followed back-to-back-to-back massacres in Gilroy, Calif., El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Thrust into gun debate, Scalise says being a shooting survivor doesn't mean it's his No. 1 priority," 16 Sep. 2019 Saskia Kouwenberg, a Dutch journalist and human-rights campaigner who managed to smuggle out footage of an Indonesian massacre in 1991, was abruptly removed from the list of recipients. The Economist, "A row about medals reveals disputes about East Timor’s history," 12 Sep. 2019 The recent massacres in El Paso, Midland and Odessa were very much on their minds. New York Times, "lone House Democrat from Texas with an “A” rating," 9 Sep. 2019 On January 11, 1994, a fax arrived at the United Nations warning of an impending massacre in Rwanda. Erin Overbey, The New Yorker, "Sunday Reading: The Power of Investigative Journalism," 25 Aug. 2019 Following the Bloody Sunday massacre that year in St. Petersburg, where authorities fired upon a group of peaceful demonstrators and killed more than 100 people, Alexander Palace was determined to be a safer place for the family. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "From Nazi Prisons to Cat Sanctuaries, Explore the Many Lives of These Russian Palaces," 19 Aug. 2019 The last time the NRA’s approval rating fell this low was right after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, when two students murdered 12 students and one teacher. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "It took more than 700 deaths over 20 years for Americans to finally dislike the NRA," 15 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Entire Maya communities were massacred during the Guatemalan Civil War between 1960 and 1996—the long tail of a conquest that has never been complete. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "In search of the ‘white Jaguar’: Archaeologists travel deep into the jungle to find a lost Maya city," 5 Sep. 2019 In 2010, 72 were massacred in the town of San Fernando. MarÍa Verza, Houston Chronicle, "Migrants sent back by US dumped in Mexico's Monterrey," 25 July 2019 The event comes nearly two weeks after a gunman massacred 22 people and wounded more than two dozen others at a Walmart. CBS News, "Watch live: El Paso, Texas, holding memorial service to mourn those killed in mass shooting," 14 Aug. 2019 Watkins said in an unboxing video on his YouTube channel in late March, two weeks after a gunman massacred 51 people at a mosque in New Zealand and a 74-page missive on 8chan was linked to the suspect. Washington Post, "The fountain pen-obsessed entrepreneur behind 8chan, the Internet’s most notorious hate forum," 9 Aug. 2019 In fact, the R.P.F. argued relentlessly with the U.N. Security Council to impede the deployment of a peacekeeping force, claiming in particular as of late April 1994 that most of the Tutsis had already been massacred. Maggie Calt, Harper's magazine, "Brutal from the Beginning," 22 July 2019 In Iraq, Obama’s decision to withdraw American troops, against the advice of his military, opened the door to ISIS, whose fighters massacred thousands of Yazidis and Christians, and other minorities. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, "The Moral Logic of Humanitarian Intervention," 9 Sep. 2019 Armed loggers have reportedly massacred members of the uncontacted Awá tribe in the past. Daniel Wolfe, Quartz, "Loggers are lighting fires inside the territory of uncontacted Amazon tribes," 30 Aug. 2019 In the past two years Dogon and Bambara militiamen, claiming to be anti-jihadist, have massacred hundreds of Fulani men, women and children. W.b., The Economist, "A new round of violence in Mali," 3 July 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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Statistics for massacre

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for massacre

The first known use of massacre was circa 1578

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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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