Definition of sacrifice in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsakrəˌfīs/


1An act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to God or to a divine or supernatural figure: they offer sacrifices to the spirits the ancient laws of animal sacrifice
More example sentences
  • Churches that have not been abandoned entirely are used for occult rites, animal sacrifices, and Black Masses.
  • Among the expressions of this religion are fire walking, animal sacrifices, and rituals of possession by a deity or ancestor.
  • Of course God does not need offerings from humans; the entire process of animal sacrifices and offerings is about using the physical to access the spiritual.
ritual slaughter, offering, oblation, immolation
1.1An animal, person, or object offered in a sacrifice.
Example sentences
  • Abraham is commanded to take his son Isaac on a journey to a mount in the land of Moriah and there offer him as a sacrifice to God.
  • Well, I'll just be patient and hope and pray and offer up sacrifices to whatever god is willing to help us out.
  • And the Greeks believed in their gods, they worshipped their gods, they offered up sacrifices, and they were very real to the Greeks.
(votive) offering, burnt offering, gift, oblation
1.2An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy: we must all be prepared to make sacrifices
More example sentences
  • Other veterans spoke about serving our country during peacetime and how important it is for citizens to make sacrifices for their freedom.
  • For its part, Britain has to demonstrate that it considers the project so important that it, too, is prepared to make sacrifices.
  • That dynamic is important because it spurs the individuals to make sacrifices for the good of the team.
surrender, giving up, abandonment, renunciation, forfeiture, relinquishment, resignation, abdication
1.3 Christian Church Christ’s offering of himself in the Crucifixion.
Example sentences
  • Christ's oblation, his total gift by the sacrifice on the cross, is the act of initiation for himself definitively, and it is valid with regard to all human beings.
  • Christ was a man of peace who gave himself as a sacrifice for the world's sins - let himself be crucified rather than offer violence.
  • Mrs James, whose parish includes Minety, Leigh and Ashton Keynes, has even gone as far as to try and change the shape of the crucifix a symbol of Jesus's ultimate sacrifice.
1.4 Christian Church The Eucharist regarded either (in Catholic terms) as a propitiatory offering of the body and blood of Christ or (in Protestant terms) as an act of thanksgiving.
Example sentences
  • Debate also began in the late Middle Ages, developed in the Reformation, and continues to this day on the extent to which the Eucharist is a sacrifice.
  • We are committed by that Baptism to share in the celebration of this faith in a common sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
  • The point is what God has done, and is doing in the Mass, reconciling the world to Himself through the sacrifice of Christ.
1.5 Chess A move intended to allow the opponent to win a pawn or piece, for strategic or tactical reasons.
Example sentences
  • The pawn sacrifice throws the black pieces off guard and the white rooks are ready for an invasion.
  • He followed up blundering a pawn with a piece sacrifice of the desperate sort.
  • Watson spends a chapter looking at positional pawn sacrifices, with particular attention given to its handling by Kasparov.
1.6 (also sacrifice bunt or sacrifice hit) Baseball A bunted ball that puts the batter out but allows a base runner or runners to advance.
Example sentences
  • In 1926, the rule was changed, giving a batter credit for a sacrifice fly if any base runner advances on the catch.
  • The next batter, pitcher Don Wilson advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt.
  • Stacey Nuveman started the eighth inning with a sacrifice bunt to push designated runner Amanda Freed to third base.
1.7 (also sacrifice bid) Bridge A bid made in the belief that it will be less costly to be defeated in the contract than to allow the opponents to make a contract.
Example sentences
  • Sometimes, a player will make a sacrifice bid and the leader will ‘meld out’ anyway.
  • The Jack is your Knight and as such can always be played from a target player's hand as a sacrifice defender.
  • We have constructively bid in a game-forcing auction, when an opponent makes a sacrifice bid that forces us to bid our suit at the 5-level.


[with object]
1Offer or kill as a religious sacrifice: the goat was sacrificed at the shrine
More example sentences
  • Muslims may not eat any food that has been sacrificed to idols, but kosher is fine.
  • Then there is the Dakshinkhali Temple, where goats and chickens are sacrificed to a hungry goddess.
  • The Bible warns against idol worship, of Moloch, for example, in which human beings, especially children, are sacrificed to appease or please a god.
offer up, immolate, slaughter
1.1Give up (something important or valued) for the sake of other considerations: working hard doesn’t mean sacrificing your social life
More example sentences
  • Salem has made it clear that it won't sacrifice its values for profit, even stating so in its annual report.
  • Today, the privatisation of social services means that children are sacrificed for the sake of profit more than ever.
  • We can never sacrifice democracy and the values of liberty in favour of social change.
give up, abandon, surrender, forgo, renounce, forfeit, relinquish, resign, abdicate;
1.2 Chess Deliberately allow one’s opponent to win (a pawn or piece).
Example sentences
  • Maybe this explains why Kasparov sacrificed two pawns straight out of the opening - he probably felt he could do anything and still beat this guy!
  • White sacrifices a pawn in order to open the opponent's castled position.
  • The Bulgarian got the party going at an early stage by sacrificing a pawn for central domination, and Kasparov had to play very accurately to maintain his balance.
1.3 Baseball Advance (a base runner) by a sacrifice.
Example sentences
  • He learned from his father, Sandy, a player who made a career out of doing little things like sacrificing runners and stealing bases.
  • Lee led off with a single, and after Gonzalez struck out, Penny sacrificed the runner to second.
  • Luis Aparicio then sacrificed runners to second and third followed by a Nellie Fox intentional walk.
1.4 [no object] Bridge Make a sacrifice bid.
Example sentences
  • And when he sacrificed in four spades on the next round, he made it much easier for the opponents to judge whether to bid higher or, as here, to double for penalties.
  • You may raise to put pressure on the opponents, to compete for the contract or to sacrifice.


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin sacrificium; related to sacrificus 'sacrificial', from sacer 'holy'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sac·ri·fice

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