san·​gui·​nary ˈsaŋ-gwə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce sanguinary (audio)
: bloodthirsty, murderous
sanguinary hatred
: attended by bloodshed : bloody
this bitter and sanguinary warT. H. D. Mahoney
: consisting of blood
a sanguinary stream
sanguinarily adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for sanguinary

bloody, sanguinary, gory mean affected by or involving the shedding of blood.

bloody is applied especially to things that are actually covered with blood or are made up of blood.

bloody hands

sanguinary applies especially to something attended by, or someone inclined to, bloodshed.

the Civil War was America's most sanguinary conflict

gory suggests a profusion of blood and slaughter.

exceptionally gory, even for a horror movie

Examples of sanguinary in a Sentence

a movie so sanguinary that I covered my eyes during at least half of it
Recent Examples on the Web An appeal to force was an admission of failure, and the pride of the new nation was the sense of overcoming the sanguinary reflexes of the old world. TIME, 31 Jan. 2024 That battle would send Bonaparte on a dizzying journey up — and down and up and down — the greasy pole of French politics and military promotions, and it’s staged by Scott with sanguinary detail: Blood will spurt, spray and splatter throughout the battles that made him and undid him. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2023 Of course, things don’t always go to plan, and apart from serving up varying portions of Reddick, Ian McShane and main course Keanu Reeves, the films are a sanguinary festival of fisticuffs, karate chops, spinning kicks, gunfire, stabbings, chases and exploding heads. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2023 But most of the works in this show of 28 artists come from some place closer to the end, where violent outcomes are expressed in sanguinary hues. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 26 May 2023 Last month, Uganda finally declared the country free of hemorrhagic fevers after three months of battling these seemingly omnipresent sanguinary viruses. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 24 Nov. 2012 Visitors seek out traces of Escobar’s sanguinary reign while also making the trek to Comuna 13 to hear stories of revolutionary mayhem. Los Angeles Times, 10 Oct. 2022 To be categorically clear, there cannot be any moral equivalency between a monstrous and sanguinary apostle of death like Al-Zawahiri and the supreme champion of free speech, Salman Rushdie. Melik Kaylan, Forbes, 17 Aug. 2022 Except, of course, there have been a great many more mass shootings, adding Atlanta; Orlando, Fla.; Las Vegas; El Paso; Pittsburgh; Boulder, Colo.; Parkland, Fla.; and many other cities, large and small, to the sanguinary toll. Los Angeles Times, 16 May 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sanguinary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin sanguinarius, from sanguin-, sanguis blood

First Known Use

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sanguinary was circa 1623

Dictionary Entries Near sanguinary

Cite this Entry

“Sanguinary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


san·​gui·​nary ˈsaŋ-gwə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce sanguinary (audio)
: willing or eager to cause bloodshed : bloodthirsty
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