AskDefine | Define massacre

Dictionary Definition

massacre n : the savage and excessive killing of many people [syn: slaughter, mass murder, carnage, butchery] v : kill a large number of people indiscriminately; "The Hutus massacred the Tutsis in Rwanda" [syn: slaughter, mow down]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ʼmæsɘkɘ*/


French, from Late Latin mazacrium; compare Provincial German metzgern, metzgen, to kill cattle, German Metzger a butcher, and Low German matsken = to cut, hew, Old High German meizan to cut, Gothic máitan. See also French massacrer


  1. The intentional killing of a considerable number of human beings, under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty, or contrary to the usages of civilized people.
    the massacre on St. Bartholomew's Day
    St. Valentine's Day massacre
    Amritsar massacre
    the Wounded Knee massacre
  2. 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.


  • butchery, carnage
    Massacre denotes the promiscuous slaughter of many who can not make resistance, or much resistance.
    • 1592, William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, I,v
      I'll find a day to massacre them all, And raze their faction and their family
    Butchery refers to cold-blooded cruelty in the killing of men as if they were brute beasts.
    • 1593, William Shakespeare, Richard III, I,ii
      If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds, Behold this pattern of thy butcheries
    Carnage points to slaughter as producing the heaped-up bodies of the slain.
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost''
      Such a scent I draw Of carnage, prey innumerable!

Related terms


intentional mass killing


  1. To kill in considerable numbers where much resistance can not be made; to kill with indiscriminate violence, without necessity, and contrary to the usages of nations; to butcher; to slaughter - 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 Maximian had massacred the Theban legion


to kill in considerable numbers



  1. massacre

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Massacre may refer to:
  • , the intentional killing of a considerable number of human beings, under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty, or contrary to "the usages established among civilized peoples" (International Humanitarian Law term from the Martens Clause).
  • List of events named massacres.



  • Massacre (comics), a DC Comics villain.
  • The Mutant Massacre (or "Morlock Massacre") was a major Marvel Comics crossover that took place during the last quarter of 1986.




massacre in German: Massacre
massacre in Spanish: Masacre (desambiguación)
massacre in French: Massacre (homonymie)
massacre in Polish: Masakra
massacre in Finnish: Verilöyly

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

annihilate, annihilating, annihilation, assassination, assault, attack, battering, bloodbath, bloodshed, bump off, butcher, butchering, butchery, carnage, commit carnage, commit genocide, commit mass murder, decimate, decimation, depopulate, destroy, disorderliness, eliminate, eradicate, execute, execution, exterminate, extermination, final solution, forcible seizure, genocide, holocaust, kill, killing, laying waste, liquidate, liquidation, looting, mass destruction, mass murder, mow down, murder, murder wholesale, murdering, obliterate, obstreperousness, onslaught, pillaging, pogrom, race extermination, race-murder, rape, riot, rioting, sacking, saturnalia of blood, slaughter, slaughtering, slay, slay en masse, slaying, sowing with salt, unruliness, violation, wholesale murder, wipe out
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