Definition of hecatomb in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈhekəˌtōm/


1(In ancient Greece or Rome) a great public sacrifice, originally of a hundred oxen.
Example sentences
  • Let the North be conquered, and the salt tears of the oppressed will water the ground for many a long decade of years, and many a hecatomb will uprear its head, and many a sod be nurtured by the blood of liberty-loving human beings.
  • He had promised Aphrodite a hecatomb, a sacrifice of 100 oxen, if he won Helen, but forgot about it, and earned her wrath.
  • An uncontained outbreak of mad cow disease would have dire effects on our economy, our diets, and probably the lives of the thousands of cattle who would be murdered in one giant hecatomb held in honor of the god of food safety.
1.1An extensive loss of life for some cause.
Example sentences
  • What do you think would be the fundamental consequences of such a crisis, and what, in your opinion, are the correctives that should be adopted to avoid humanity from suffering such a total hecatomb?
  • Consider by comparison scholarship on the hecatomb in Congo.
  • Unfortunately, in terms of the European Commission, nothing is less ‘European’ than this porcine hecatomb.


Late 16th century: via Latin from Greek hekatombē (from hekaton 'hundred' + bous 'ox').

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hec·a·tomb

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.