sac·​ri·​fice | \ ˈsa-krə-ˌfīs How to pronounce sacrifice (audio) also -fəs or -ˌfīz \

Definition of sacrifice

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an act of offering to a deity something precious especially : the killing of a victim on an altar
2 : something offered in sacrifice
3a : destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else
b : something given up or lost the sacrifices made by parents
4 : loss goods sold at a sacrifice


sacrificed; sacrificing

Definition of sacrifice (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to offer as a sacrifice
2 : to suffer loss of, give up, renounce, injure, or destroy especially for an ideal, belief, or end
3 : to sell at a loss
4 : to advance (a base runner) by means of a sacrifice hit
5 : to kill (an animal) as part of a scientific experiment

intransitive verb

1 : to make or perform the rites of a sacrifice
2 : to make a sacrifice hit in baseball

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Other Words from sacrifice


sacrificer noun

Synonyms for sacrifice

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of sacrifice in a Sentence

Noun The war required everyone to make sacrifices. No sacrifice is too great when it comes to her children. He made many personal sacrifices to provide help to the city's homeless people. The war required much sacrifice from everyone. a place where priests performed human sacrifices in ancient rituals The villagers hoped the gods would accept their sacrifice. The goat was offered as a sacrifice. The runner went to second base on a sacrifice. Verb She's had to sacrifice a lot for her family. He sacrificed his personal life in order to get ahead in his career. I want to follow a diet that is healthful without sacrificing taste. She was able to ask for their help without sacrificing her dignity. She was willing to suffer, sacrifice, and work for success. a place where people were sacrificed in ancient rituals He sacrificed in his first at bat.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As immigration emerges as a central political battleground in the Trump era, this book provides crucial insight into the global scope, shifting profiles and, above all, individual sacrifices of the migrant experience. Sarah K. Benning, Washington Post, "Best Books of 2019," 21 Nov. 2019 While we're more invested than ever before in finding beauty products that are safer for our bodies and the environment, that often comes at the sacrifice of performance, pigment, and payoff. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Saie is the Clean Makeup Brand You're About to See Everywhere," 7 Nov. 2019 Luke is clearly a contemporary Christ figure, an analogy complete to his denial by the disciples, the final agony in the garden, the confrontation with a betrayer and his sacrifice for humanity. John Mahoney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Cool Hand Luke': THR's 1967 Review," 31 Oct. 2019 And striking is never an easy decision, but your sacrifices reminded General Motors of the power and might of SOLIDARITY. Ginger Christ, cleveland, "Striking Parma UAW workers ‘hope for the best,’ wait for vote on GM contract," 17 Oct. 2019 The very existence of the show, this sequence implies, is a profound act of memorializing, of ensuring that the sacrifices and struggles of previous generations are never erased. Nancy Matsumoto, The Atlantic, "Two Ways of Looking at The Terror: Infamy’s Finale," 16 Oct. 2019 The sacrifice of these four little girls and of the countless courageous Foot Soldiers of the movement has given me the strength and courage to pursue my own dreams. al, "Sixteenth Street Baptist Church added to civil rights network," 3 Oct. 2019 Each actor has an incentive to free-ride on the sacrifices of others. The Economist, "Humanity will find ways to adapt to climate change," 19 Sep. 2019 For many fans, that was worth the sacrifice of standing for hours in line — or even more. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "USWNT stars Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris honored at World Cup celebration in Orlando," 17 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Sometimes it’s being jammed by a defensive end who’s sacrificing their pass rush to knock me off the timing of my route. Matt Kawahara,, "Raiders tight end Darren Waller on attention from defenses: ‘Just another challenge’," 29 Nov. 2019 Baldwin later defended his criticism, arguing in part that Wright’s concentration on defining his main character by the force of his circumstances sacrificed that character’s humanity. Zadie Smith, The New Yorker, "Darryl Pinckney’s Intimate Study of Black History," 26 Nov. 2019 In East Africa for instance, men are having to travel farther and farther to find valuable resources that were once plentiful, leaving women behind to work double and triple shifts, and sacrifice their education and health in the process. Wired, "London Could Ban Uber, a Gendered Climate Crisis, and More News," 25 Nov. 2019 Sitcoms could turn into sentimental dramas at the worst possible moment, sacrificing a sharp comedic sensibility at the altar of Happily Ever After. Darren Franich,, "EW's Best of Shows podcast names the best TV series finales of the decade," 25 Nov. 2019 Apple hasn’t sacrificed any Touch Bar functionality here; all the previous virtual buttons and configurations are still possible in the smaller bar. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "2019 16-inch MacBook Pro review: Bye-bye, butterfly," 25 Nov. 2019 An Air-Raid style of offense, and an attacking defense that sacrifices size for speed. oregonlive, "Is Washington State’s Anthony Gordon the country’s best QB? Is Mike Leach leaving Pullman? Five questions answered by a WSU football expert," 21 Nov. 2019 December’s National Geographic cover is dedicated to the extensive tunneling and archaeological development in the city, holy to three faiths, which some say is sacrificing a present-day history for another in the distant past. National Geographic, "How do you re-create a 7,000-year-old woman?," 18 Nov. 2019 The reign of Victoria and the social classes, the horrific losses of World War I, the Churchillian comeback and the frustrating, postwar struggles for a generation that had sacrificed everything yet often seemed to be running in place. Geoff Edgers,, "How the Kinks turned a British history lesson into a rock masterpiece that still resonates," 28 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sacrifice.' 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 sacrifice


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for sacrifice


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin sacrificium, from sacr-, sacer + facere to make — more at do

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Time Traveler for sacrifice

Time Traveler

The first known use of sacrifice was in the 13th century

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Statistics for sacrifice

Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Sacrifice.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for sacrifice


How to pronounce sacrifice (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sacrifice

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone
: an act of killing a person or animal in a religious ceremony as an offering to please a god
: a person or animal that is killed in a sacrifice



English Language Learners Definition of sacrifice (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give up (something that you want to keep) especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone
: to kill (a person or animal) in a religious ceremony as an offering to please a god
: to make a sacrifice bunt


sac·​ri·​fice | \ ˈsa-krə-ˌfīs How to pronounce sacrifice (audio) \

Kids Definition of sacrifice

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act or ceremony of making an offering to God or a god especially on an altar
2 : something offered as a religious act
3 : an act of giving up something especially for the sake of someone or something else We were happy to make a sacrifice of our time to help a friend in need.
4 : something given up especially for the sake of helping others


sacrificed; sacrificing

Kids Definition of sacrifice (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to offer or kill as a religious act The ancient ritual involved sacrificing an animal.
2 : to give up (something) especially for the sake of something or someone else They sacrificed their lives for their country.

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Comments on sacrifice

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heavy with or as if with moisture

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