Share this entry

massacre Line breaks: mas|sacre
Pronunciation: /ˈmasəkə/

Definition of massacre in English:


1An indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of many people: reports of massacres by government troops
More example sentences
  • It was a slow slaughter, peppered with massacres and atrocities from which whole generations are still recovering.
  • Nothing else can describe such brutal massacres, such wanton destruction.
  • I thought that I had seen one tiny corner of an indiscriminate massacre of students and intellectuals, a bloodbath.
slaughter, wholesale slaughter, mass slaughter, wholesale killing, indiscriminate killing;
literary slaying
1.1 informal A heavy defeat of a sporting team or contestant: the 25,000 ecstatic fans that packed into Coruna’s shabby Riazor Stadium witnessed a massacre
More example sentences
  • We discovered in the massacre at Macclesfield that all teams can look poor going backwards, and Longton were certainly no exception.
  • It was a massacre.. Australia smashed England out of the park in the batting and then took the major wickets in short order.
  • It was a massacre. When a team wins 38-14, on the road, without forcing a single defensive turnover, you know it has been a one-sided game.


[with object] Back to top  
1Deliberately and brutally kill (many people): thousands were brutally massacred by soldiers
More example sentences
  • In retaliation to killings of northerners in the South, the military rulers massacred thousands of southerners and many were brutally tortured.
  • We would massacre their cities, killing woman and children, and they would do the same.
  • Then criminal responsibility would in fact be much clearer than it would be if soldiers had massacred civilians in violation of orders.
slaughter, butcher, murder, kill, annihilate, exterminate, execute, liquidate, eliminate, destroy, decimate, kill off, wipe out, mow down, cut down, cut to pieces, put to the sword, put to death, send to the gas chambers
literary slay
1.1 informal Inflict a heavy defeat on (a sporting opponent): we haven’t been massacred in any game over the last six years
More example sentences
  • Yesterday, however, the triple Olympic champion turned up at the start of the women's time-trial and massacred the opposition to retain the second of her titles.
  • In 81 overs the Nalandians massacred the Royal bowlers to post a massive 315 for six wickets when stumps were drawn.
  • After taking some time to play himself in, he simply massacred the bowlers and England were put to the sword.
1.2 informal Perform (a piece of music, a play, etc.) very ineptly: the choir was massacring ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’
More example sentences
  • Both gaze lovingly at their partner in the audience as they massacre bad ballads.
  • I think it appropriate to note that the song was not written by Joan, especially since there are people who feel that Joan massacred the song.
  • The orchestra didn't help matters and massacred the song completely and turned the guitar solo into a joke.


Late 16th century: from French, of unknown origin.

  • This is from French, from Old French macecre ‘slaughterhouse, butcher's shop’.

Definition of massacre in:

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.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day whippersnapper
Pronunciation: ˈ(h)wipərˌsnapər
a young, inexperienced person considered presumptuous or overconfident...