Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire.
  • n. The genocide of European Jews and others by the Nazis during World War II: "Israel emerged from the Holocaust and is defined in relation to that catastrophe” ( Emanuel Litvinoff).
  • n. A massive slaughter: "an important document in the so-far sketchy annals of the Cambodian holocaust” ( Rod Nordland).
  • n. A sacrificial offering that is consumed entirely by flames.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sacrifice to a god that is completely burned to ashes.
  • n. The annihilation or near-annihilation of a group of animals or people, whether by natural or deliberate agency.
  • n. The state-sponsored mass murder of an ethnic group. In particular, the Holocaust (which see).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A burnt sacrifice; an offering, the whole of which was consumed by fire, among the Jews and some pagan nations.
  • n. Sacrifice or loss of many lives, as by the burning of a theater or a ship.
  • n. The mass killing of millions of Jews by the Nazis during the period from 1933 to 1945 in Germany and German-occupied lands; usually referred to as The Holocaust. In Hebrew, the same event is referred to by the word Shoah.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A sacrifice or offering entirely consumed by fire, in use among the Jews and some pagan nations.
  • n. Figuratively, a great slaughter or sacrifice of life, as by fire or other accident, or in battle.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an act of mass destruction and loss of life (especially in war or by fire)
  • n. the mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime from 1941 until 1945

Etymologies

Middle English, burnt offering, from Old French holocauste, from Latin holocaustum, from Greek holokauston, from neuter of holokaustos, burnt whole : holo-, holo- + kaustos, burnt (from kaiein, to burn).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French holocauste, from Late Latin holocaustum, from the neuter form of Ancient Greek ὁλόκαυστος, from ὅλος (holos, "whole") + καύστος (kaustos, "burnt"), from καίω (kaiō, "I burn") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Many linguists believe that the word holocaust, which is a Greek word -- holo means all and caust meaning "to burn to ashes", was originally coined to refer to a criminal incident in ancient Yemen committed by Jews who burnt alive a large group of chained and handcuffed men, women and children for their adherence to teachings the Jesus Christ (PBUH).

    Judeopundit

  • I had consciously used the word holocaust to describe the indiscriminate bombardment of Beirut because I knew it would have a special meaning for Begin.

    An American Life

  • •The word "holocaust" - which now signifies World War II genocide - has been replaced by "burnt offering."

    USATODAY.com News

  • To be sure, you can use the term holocaust to describe these events, but only as a metaphor.

    Belfasttelegraph.co.uk - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • "The collective violence in both rearguards by brutal perpetrators against undeserving victims justifies the use of the word 'holocaust'," he writes.

    Trial of judge Baltasar Garzón splits a Spain still suffering civil war wounds

  • Some of the changes:•The word "holocaust," now associated with World War II genocide, has been replaced by "burnt offering."

    Bishops boot 'booty' from revised Bible

  • The whole claim that the holocaust is a direct result of Darwin's theory is an old creationist lie.

    A Review of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

  • In Germany, believing abortion to be as murderous as the holocaust is a crime, and educating your own children is a crime too.

    A New Weapon Against Freedom and ID: Volksverhetzung

  • Even though what we term a holocaust denier doesn't fit the above description, people continue to live in denial about Israel and how she came into being and her constant battle with the Arab people.

    Holocaust Deniers

  • For example, the word "holocaust," which for most people refers to the World War Two genocide of Jews, was changed to "burned offerings," which clarifies the original, positive idea of making offerings to God.

    Reuters: Top News

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Conversation pertaining to this term on porajmos.

    November 18, 2008

  • Originally derived from the Greek word holókauston, meaning a "completely (holos) burnt (kaustos)" sacrificial offering to a god. (Wikipedia)

    October 15, 2008