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 Otherwise, a good-for-now job is a small sacrifice to make in exchange for a reference who can vouch for your integrity. Washington Post, "Go ahead and interview for a new job — but make plans for a graceful exit from your old one," 7 Nov. 2019 There's no question that performance is the primary sacrifice compared to the rest of the iPad lineup, but this is still solid enough performance. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "The 2019 iPad races to the bottom (price-wise), but it’s not so bad down there," 23 Oct. 2019 Each is a sacrifice, a summons, and something in the darkness has heard the call. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, "Literary calendar: Hillary and Chelsea Clinton present ‘The Book of Gutsy Women’ this week in Minneapolis," 19 Oct. 2019 Johnson has a younger brother on the team and another in high school who hopes to be, and to him, the decision to quit was a worthy sacrifice for all of those who might return next season and perhaps beyond. New York Times, "An Entire College Team Gives Up Football," 9 Oct. 2019 But her sacrifice isn't over Matt Mencarini joined the Courier Journal in March 2019 as an investigative reporter, with an emphasis on environmental reporting., "How the Courier Journal revealed the story of Rachael Denhollander's life-changing sacrifice," 4 Sep. 2019 But that scandal, along with GM, FCA and Ford workers being quick to remind the automakers of the sacrifices the rank-and-file made during the Great Recession, has left workers anxious. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "UAW authorizes strike; union targets General Motors first in contract talks," 3 Sep. 2019 On Wednesday, Hall and Quinones will be honored with the installation of memorial plaques at Acton Park during a service held to recognize the decade that has passed since their sacrifice, according to L.A. County Fire spokesman Capt. Sara Cardine, La Cañada Valley Sun, "10 years on, the Station fire remains burned into the minds of locals and fire officials," 21 Aug. 2019 Giridharadas thinks the MarketWorld ethos enables those in charge to convey a sense of sacrifice while comfortably calling the shots, thereby preserving their place at the top. Fortune, "An Insider Takes Aim at Corporate America’s ‘Elite Charade’," 20 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Research has shown that pity is a con artists number one manipulation to make people sacrifice themselves. Dr. Daneen Skube,, "Don’t ignore red flags of new hire; end it now," 14 Nov. 2019 However, a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that most ibises were actually captured in the wild and possibly kept on farms for only short periods of time before being sacrificed and mummified. Antoaneta Roussi, National Geographic, "Ancient Egyptians mummified millions of birds. Where did they get them?," 13 Nov. 2019 With Alabama trailing late, tacklers were looking for a game-changing stripped fumble in a risk-vs-reward moment that sacrificed some of the tackling fundamentals. Michael Casagrande |, al, "The missed-tackle issue haunted Alabama’s loss to LSU," 12 Nov. 2019 Sleeping under the stars doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a good night’s rest, especially because today’s sleeping bags are more technologically advanced than ever. Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Sleeping Bags for Spending the Night Under the Stars," 29 Oct. 2019 The Tribune’s disappearance was further testimony that moderates were simply less willing than conservatives to suffer and sacrifice for their cause. Doug Henwood, Harper's magazine, "To Serve Is to Rule," 28 Oct. 2019 Berg worked hard and sacrificed to achieve her goal — and her dream — of graduating and living in Boulder. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Emergency Family Assistance Program in Boulder acts as community safety net, offers array of programs," 26 Oct. 2019 More important, cutting loose the Kurds who had recently sacrificed so much to be our front-line fighters in the successful campaign against the ISIS caliphate was dishonorable. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 24 Oct. 2019 Attention-getting lunatics all, sacrificing sanity for the higher aims of art. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Brilliantly neurotic, the Polish avant-garde finds a home in L.A., with CalArts’ help," 22 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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Learn More about sacrifice

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

18 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Sacrifice.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 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

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


not agreeing with established beliefs

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