• (British) IPA: /ˈhɛ.kə.tuːm/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈhɛkətoʊm/

hecatomb (plural hecatombs)

  1. (Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome) A great feast and public sacrifice to the gods, originally of a hundred oxen.
    • 2007, Homer, Rodney Merrill transl., The Iliad, University of Michigan Press (ISBN 9780472116171), page 40 ↗:
      For the god they speedily stationed the sacred hecatomb all in good order surrounding the well-built altar.
  2. (by extension) Any great sacrifice; a great number of people, animals or things, especially as sacrificed or destroyed; a large amount.
    • 2002, Christopher Hitchens, "Martin Amis: Lightness at Midnight", The Atlantic, Sep 2002:
      In Conquest's opinion, the visceral reaction to Nazism entails a verdict that it was morally worse than Stalinism, even if its eventual hecatomb was a less colossal one.
    • 2006, Karen Armstrong, The Great Transformation, Atlantic Books 2007, p. 31-2:
      During the royal hunt, the Shang killed wild beasts with reckless abandon, and consumed hecatombs of domestic animals at a bin banquet or a funeral.

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