Definitions

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

  • n. The act or an instance of killing a large number of humans indiscriminately and cruelly.
  • n. The slaughter of a large number of animals.
  • n. Informal A severe defeat, as in a sports event.
  • transitive v. To kill indiscriminately and wantonly; slaughter.
  • transitive v. Informal To defeat decisively.
  • transitive v. Informal To botch; bungle: massacred the French language trying to order dinner.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The intentional killing of a considerable number of human beings, under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty, or contrary to the norms of civilized people.
  • n. Murder.
  • v. To kill in considerable numbers where much resistance can not be made; to kill with indiscriminate violence, without necessity, and contrary to the norms of civilized people; to butcher; to slaughter. (Often limited to the killing of human beings.)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The killing of a considerable number of human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty, or contrary to the usages of civilized people.
  • n. Murder.
  • transitive v. 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.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To kill with attendant circumstances of atrocity; butcher; slaughter: commonly used in reference to the killing of a large number of human beings at once, who are not in a condition to defend themselves.
  • Synonyms Murder, Slaughter, etc. See kill.
  • n. The indiscriminate killing of human beings; the unnecessary slaughter of a number of persons, as in barbarous warfare or persecution, or for revenge or plunder: as, the massacre of Glencoe: sometimes applied also to the wholesale killing of wild animals.
  • n. In heraldry, a pair of antlers or attires attached to a piece of the skull, used as a bearing.

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

  • v. kill a large number of people indiscriminately
  • n. the savage and excessive killing of many people

Etymologies

French, from Old French macecle, macecre, butchery, shambles.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1580, from Middle French massacre, from Old French macacre, macecle ("slaughterhouse, butchery"), from Medieval Latin mazacrium ("massacre, slaughter, killing”, also “the head of a newly killed stag"), from Middle Low German *matskelen (“to massacre”) (compare German metzeln ("massacre")), frequentive of matsken, matzgen ("to cut, hew"), from Proto-Germanic *maitanan (“to cut”), from Proto-Indo-European *mei- (“small”). Akin to Old High German meizan ("to cut"), Dutch matsen ("to maul, kill"), dialectal German metzgern "to butcher, kill", German metzgen ("to cull, kill, slaughter cattle"), Metzger ("a butcher"), Metzelei ("massacre"), Gothic 𐌼𐌰𐌹𐍄𐌰𐌽 (maitan, "to cut"). See also the French term massacrer. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • In heraldry, a pair of antlers or attires attached to a piece of the skull, used as a bearing. -- Century Dictionary

    October 10, 2011

  • I think my friend said, "I hear footsteps."
    I wore my black and white dress to
    The Birthday Massacre.
    -Birthday Massacre.

    July 28, 2009

  • A whole bunch of land.

    January 6, 2009