massacre
1580, from Middle French massacre, from Old French macacre, usually thought to be deverbal from Old French macecrer, macecler ("to slaughter"), though the noun seems to be attested somewhat earlier.
  • From Latin macellum.
  • From Vulgar Latin - *matteuculāre, from *matteuca (cf.
  • From gml *matskelen (compare German metzeln), frequentative of matsken, matzgen, from Proto-Germanic *maitaną, from Proto-Indo-European *mei-.
  • Note also Arabic مَجْزَرَة, originally “spot where animals are slaughtered”, now also “massacre”, and in Maghrebi Arabic “slaughterhouse”. Derived from جَزَرَ ("to cut, slaughter").
Pronunciation
  • (GA) IPA: /ˈmæs.ə.kɚ/
  • (British) IPA: /ˈmæs.ə.kə(ɹ)/
Noun

massacre

  1. The killing of a considerable number (usually limited to people) where little or no resistance can be made, with indiscriminate violence, without necessity, and contrary to civilized norms.
    • 1592, William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, Act I, Scene v:
      I'll find a day to massacre them all,
      And raze their faction and their family
    St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre
    St. Valentine's Day Massacre
    Amritsar Massacre
  2. (obsolete) Murder.
    • 1593, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Richard the Third
      The tyrannous and bloody act is done,—
      The most arch deed of piteous massacre
      That ever yet this land was guilty of.
  3. (figuratively) Any overwhelming defeat, as in a game or sport.
Synonyms
  • (mass killing contrary to civilized norms) butchery, slaughter (in the manner of livestock); decimation (strictly an orderly selection of ⅒ of a group for slaughter; see its entry for other terms concerning other ratios)
Related terms Translations Verb

massacre (massacres, present participle massacring; past and past participle massacred)

  1. (transitive) To kill in considerable numbers where little or no resistance can be made, with indiscriminate violence, without necessity, and contrary to civilized norms. (Often limited to the killing of human beings.)
    • 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History Of England From the Accession of James II
      If James should be pleased to massacre them all, as Maximilian had massacred the Theban legion
  2. (figuratively) To win so decisively it is in the manner of so slaughtering one's opponent.
  3. (figuratively) To give a performance so poorly it is in the manner of so slaughtering the musical piece, play etc being performed.
Translations


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