(1)   The savage and excessive killing of many people


(2)   Kill a large number of people indiscriminately
"The Hutus massacred the Tutsis in Rwanda"


, from ; compare Provincial German , , German , and Low German , Old High German , Gothic . See also French


  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!


  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 Maximilian had massacred the Theban legion