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mas·​sa·​cre ˈma-si-kər How to pronounce massacre (audio)
: 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
: a cruel or wanton (see wanton entry 1 sense 1a) murder
: a wholesale slaughter of animals
Residents engaged in a citywide cat massacre.
: an act of complete destruction
the author's massacre of traditional federalist presuppositionsR. G. McCloskey
the Puritan massacre of statues and picturesRobert Hughes


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massacred; massacring ˈma-si-k(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce massacre (audio)

transitive verb

: to kill by massacre
: mangle sense 2
words were misspelled and syntax massacredBice Clemow
massacrer 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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Mahmoud tells him about the massacre that took place in the summer of 1996 when more than 1,200 inmates were rounded up and shot dead inside the jail compound. Hazlitt, 3 Apr. 2024 Israeli officials promise to 'open the gates of hell,' and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced. Nadine El-Bawab, ABC News, 2 Apr. 2024 Countless civilians are caught in the crossfire: Artillery bombardments and airstrikes pounded urban areas, while warring militias pursued tribal vendettas and carried out hideous ethnic massacres. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2024 Barrera’s comment came as Israel was recovering from the deadliest one-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, and at a time when anti-Jewish incidents and assaults were sharply on the rise across the world. Ryan Gajewski, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Mar. 2024 Donations from the exhibition will go to the Nova Healing Journey, an initiative that supports mental health treatment for victims and families of the October 7 massacre. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 27 Mar. 2024 Israelis are less than six months removed from the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, a massacre that Hamas leaders have vowed to repeat over and over again until Israel no longer exists. The Editors, National Review, 26 Mar. 2024 At the site of the massacre, an impromptu memorial had mushroomed into a mountain of flowers, candles, and other tributes by Sunday evening. Charles Maynes, NPR, 25 Mar. 2024 There were no areas for the two million or so Palestinians who call it home now and who have seen lives, homes and communities devastated by the ongoing war, sparked by Hamas’ massacre of Israeli citizens last October 7. Clarissa Ward, CNN, 20 Mar. 2024
Across its border sat an army of tens of thousands of men intent on massacring civilians. Phil Klay, The Atlantic, 28 Mar. 2024 Colonizing, stripping the land of its assets, terrorizing and massacring the population. Tony Rehagen, Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2024 The message, which some are interpreting as indicating support for Hamas, the terrorist group that massacred civilians in southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, is being taken that way by some of Jewish faith in the San Diego community. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Dec. 2023 Still, the world has seen an explosion of antisemitism since October 7, when Hamas massacred 1,200 Israelis, launching the latest Gaza war. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 26 Feb. 2024 In response, angry residents launched a sit-in at a clock tower; regime soldiers massacred them, leaving the asphalt streaked with blood. Anand Gopal, The New Yorker, 11 Mar. 2024 At the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, where 11 people were massacred a year ago in a shooting rampage. Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024 Violence first broke out over control of the holy sites in Jerusalem and spread to cities including Hebron and Safed, where Arabs massacred Jews. Emily Bazelon, New York Times, 1 Feb. 2024 Paiute and Shoshone tribes also say the mine is being built on sacred land at Thacker Pass where more than two dozen of their ancestors were massacred by U.S. troops in 1865. Scott Sonner, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024

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

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle French

First Known Use


circa 1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of massacre was circa 1578

Dictionary Entries Near massacre

Cite this Entry

“Massacre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
mas·​sa·​cre ˈmas-i-kər How to pronounce massacre (audio)
massacred; massacring
: to kill in a massacre : slaughter


2 of 2 noun
: the violent and cruel killing of a number of persons

More from Merriam-Webster on massacre

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