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 How one farm is recovering from a massacre Colyer was due first on Feb. 23. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, "These 64-year-old Louisville natives are finally celebrating their 'Sweet 16' on Leap Day," 25 Feb. 2020 Analysts warn of on grisly display not just in the massacres carried out by lone wolves in the West, but also in the vast prison camps of China’s Xinjiang region and in the rhetoric and policy choices of India’s Hindu nationalist government. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Trump is silent on far-right violence, again," 21 Feb. 2020 Active shooter drills have become more common as more school massacres have made headlines. NBC News, "Two largest teachers unions call for schools to revise or end active shooter drills," 13 Feb. 2020 Brown told me that some Tulsa residents believe uncovering mass graves is long overdue in a city haunted by the massacre. Simon Norfolk, National Geographic, "Pardoned, 33 years after his death," 10 Feb. 2020 The massacre prompted South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from its Statehouse. CBS News, "Dylann Roof appeals conviction, death sentence in Charleston massacre," 28 Jan. 2020 Meanwhile, news reports suggest that Ozymandias has succeeded—world leaders are making declarations of peace—and the right thing to do, our heroes decide, is to let a massacre and a lie determine the shape of a new world. Maya Phillips, The New Yorker, "“Watchmen,” “The Boys,” and the False Hope That Superheroes Can Save Us," 17 Dec. 2019 The dispute that preceded the massacre involved the gunman’s superior officer, Col. New York Times, "Thai Soldier in Mass Shooting Had Business Clash With His Commander," 10 Feb. 2020 The dispute that preceded the massacre involved the gunman’s superior officer, Colonel Anantharot Krasae, and a business operated by the colonel’s family that sold homes and helped soldiers borrow money from a military lending program., "Thai soldier in mass shooting had business clash with his commander," 10 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Both sides were accused of war crimes during the subsequent struggle for power, with reports of the Sandinistas massacring civilians and routinely violating the civil rights of Nicaraguans. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Bernie Sanders once compared himself favorably to Nicaraguan strongman Daniel Ortega," 8 Feb. 2020 Two, the innocents who are massacred, in the cartels’ quest for power, will not take death lying down. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Haunted Street Children of “Tigers Are Not Afraid”," 23 Aug. 2019 His wife, Kate Nixon, was among 12 massacred by a gunman in Virginia Beach last May at a municipal building. Kerry Picket, Washington Examiner, "Virginia Democrats defeat Republican proposal to loosen state gun laws," 21 Jan. 2020 In August 2019, after a shooter with an AK-47-style rifle massacred 22 people at an El Paso Walmart, company CEO Doug McMillon urged Congress to consider restoring an assault-weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 through 2004. Paul M. Barrett, The Conversation, "Colt ends public sales of the AR-15, but gun-control advocates shouldn’t celebrate," 8 Oct. 2019 The man who massacred 51 people at a Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque streamed video of the attack live on Facebook. Casey Tolan, The Mercury News, "Presidential contenders want social networks to do more to crack down on white nationalism," 1 Sep. 2019 In Todos Santos, which was then a small cluster of adobe houses, the Army openly massacred Mam families, intending to terrorize the population. Rachel Nolan, The New Yorker, "A Translation Crisis at the Border," 30 Dec. 2019 Like so many wildlife species in the 1800s, commercial interests massacred sea otters to near extinction; about 150 were discovered by accident in the 1930s at a nursery area near Bixby Creek at Big Sur. Tom Stienstra,, "Marine Mammal Protection Act has helped shark, seal, otter populations surge," 12 Oct. 2019 Johnson massacred five law enforcement officers in an ambush-style attack at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. Trish Choate, USA TODAY, "Texas gun laws: What happens when ‘good guys’ have guns?," 24 Oct. 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

28 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Massacre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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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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