Holocaust | Definition of Holocaust by Merriam-Webster


ho·​lo·​caust | \ ˈhō-lə-ˌkȯst How to pronounce holocaust (audio) , ˈhä- also -ˌkäst or ˈhȯ-lə-kȯst \

Definition of holocaust

1 : a sacrifice (see sacrifice entry 1 sense 2) consumed by fire
2 : a thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life especially through fire a nuclear holocaust
3a usually the Holocaust : the mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II Several members of her family died in the Holocaust. a Holocaust survivor
b : a mass slaughter of people especially : genocide a holocaust in Rwanda

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Synonyms for holocaust


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Examples of holocaust in a Sentence

The museum is devoted to the Holocaust. There were fears of a nuclear holocaust.
Recent Examples on the Web Or Roger Zelazny’s Hugo Award–winning This Immortal (here published under Zelazny’s preferred title, And Call Me Conrad) describing a post–nuclear holocaust Earth populated by both prewar cultures and new, mutant ones. Scott Bradfield, The New Republic, "Science Fiction’s Wonderful Mistakes," 16 Dec. 2019 She is predeceased by Leroy her husband of 61 years, her brother Girard who died as a child in Persia, her sister Ruth Hirsch of the UK, and most of her family who perished in the holocaust. courant.com, "Gabriele Alice Dunn," 17 Oct. 2019 One likely beneficiary is a company that most assumed would be long gone by now, consumed by the retail holocaust that has seen so many once-proud chains go the way of Chapter 11. Zachary Karabell, Wired, "Best Buy Bucks the Trend That’s Crushing Other Retailers," 11 Dec. 2019 His scheme is to save the world from nuclear holocaust by manufacturing his own act of destruction, which will force warring nations to coöperate. Maya Phillips, The New Yorker, "“Watchmen,” “The Boys,” and the False Hope That Superheroes Can Save Us," 17 Dec. 2019 Voices from the Shadow, a theatrical concert piece based on the poetry of the holocaust, had its premiere in 1998 at Lincoln Center in New York City. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "Gershon Kingsley, Moog Synthesizer Pioneer, Dies at 97," 14 Dec. 2019 In 1952, for instance, the Federal Civil Defense Administration released Duck and Cover — a grainy black-and-white film instructing school-age children on the putative best practices to protect themselves in case of nuclear holocaust. John Hirschauer, National Review, "The Needless Trauma of Active-Shooter Drills," 24 Oct. 2019 Eon productions took up this narrative and a nuclear holocaust hangs over Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, Octopussy, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World is Not Enough. André Millard, Smithsonian, "In Battles of Man Versus Machine, James Bond Always Wins," 12 July 2019 Those who deny the holocaust aim to encourage another one. Ashley Boucher, PEOPLE.com, "Sacha Baron Cohen Slams Facebook and Says Company Would Have Let Adolf Hitler Buy Political Ads," 26 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'holocaust.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of holocaust

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for holocaust

Middle English, from Late Latin holocaustum, from Greek holokauston, from neuter of holokaustos burnt whole, from hol- + kaustos burnt, from kaiein to burn — more at caustic

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Time Traveler for holocaust

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The first known use of holocaust was in the 13th century

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Statistics for holocaust

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

Holocaust.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holocaust. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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English Language Learners Definition of holocaust

: the killing of millions of Jews and other people by the Nazis during World War II
: an event or situation in which many people are killed and many things are destroyed especially by fire


ho·​lo·​caust | \ ˈhä-lə-ˌkȯst How to pronounce holocaust (audio) , ˈhō-lə- \

Kids Definition of holocaust

1 : a complete destruction especially by fire
2 often capitalized : the killing of civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II

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