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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from sacrifice


sacrificer noun

Synonyms for sacrifice

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As a gesture of appreciation for their dedication and sacrifices during the coronavirus pandemic, AmaWaterways is offering complimentary future cruise certificates to frontline medical professionals and first responders. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, "Medical Workers and First Responders Can Get a Free River Cruise to Use Through 2021," 14 May 2020 Not surprisingly, a Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll conducted last month found that Patrick’s disapproval rate went up 8 percentage points among those 65 and older after his sacrifice-the-elderly comment. Gilbert Garcia,, "Garcia: Abbott gets to play both sides on COVID-19 response," 8 May 2020 Through these small sacrifices, volunteers get to help save the lives of innocent, loving animals. Kelli Bender,, "Dog Duo Rescued From South Korea Dog Meat Farm Need a Flight to the U.S. to Start New Life," 4 May 2020 Apatow tears up those misapprehensions and sacrifices George’s likability in the process. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Judd Apatow’s Comedy Masterpiece," 1 May 2020 Your love and sacrifice have allowed me to soar in life. Mandy Gonzalez, Good Housekeeping, "Mom, You Always Encouraged Me to Stay True to Myself," 23 Apr. 2020 This includes the village’s central claim to heroic sacrifice: its choice to cut itself off. 1843, "Eyam revisited: lessons from a plague village," 16 Apr. 2020 Those sacrifices pale next to the clampdown in total comp––including the big number, equity grants––decreed by the Grant Program. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "What the government bailout means for airline investors (and CEOs)," 16 Apr. 2020 The union was born not easily and under his leadership and those who struggled so hard and often with great sacrifice to build the union., "We will remember: Tributes to a few of the metro Detroiters who died of coronavirus," 12 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb What’s certain is that there’s going to be an accounting both during and after the crisis as to who took the right actions, who sacrificed, and who truly put people ahead of profits. Dov Seidman, Fortune, "Why the coronavirus crisis makes moral leadership more important than ever," 24 Apr. 2020 But for every character who escapes by ruthlessly pushing someone else into a zombie's path, there are those who nobly sacrifice themselves so that others may live—the best and worst of humanity. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New Peninsula trailer looks just as thrilling as its zombie predecessor," 2 Apr. 2020 Birds were willing to sacrifice so their pals could get a snack. Sara Kiley Watson, Popular Science, "For some African grey parrots, sharing is caring," 13 Jan. 2020 For camp directors, the value of what could be sacrificed is dear. Lawrence Specker |, al, "Can summer camps open in 2020? Decision looms in Alabama," 24 Apr. 2020 They are made of human hair from India, sourced from a ritual known as tonsuring, a religious practice where hair is voluntarily sacrificed and donated. Paige Stables, Allure, "An Inside Look at the Meticulous Process That Goes Into Great Lengths Hair Extensions," 16 Apr. 2020 Besides the country’s health and economy, another concern for some Americans was how quickly individual liberties were sacrificed during statewide orders. Edmund Demarche | Fox News, Fox News, "Trump talks about reopening US amid coronavirus fight after virus takes toll on economy, way of life," 14 Apr. 2020 Who knows what elements of modern nation-building and democracy might conveniently be sacrificed on the altar of a vengeful and revivalist politics? Aatish Taseer, The Atlantic, "India Is No Longer India," 10 Apr. 2020 He's sacrificed, also, a lot for this team and is one of our leaders. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks feel Eric Bledsoe should have been on all-star team," 31 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sacrifice

Time Traveler for sacrifice

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sacrifice

Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sacrifice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sacrifice

What made you want to look up sacrifice? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!