1. The act or an instance of killing a large number of humans indiscriminately and cruelly.
2. The slaughter of a large number of animals.
3. Informal A severe defeat, as in a sports event.
tr.v. mas·sa·cred (-kərd), mas·sa·cring (-krĭng, -kər-ĭng), mas·sa·cres
1. To kill indiscriminately and wantonly; slaughter.
2. Informal To defeat decisively.
3. Informal To botch; bungle: massacred the French language trying to order dinner.
[French, from Old French macecle, macecre, butchery, shambles.]
massa·crer (-kər-ər, -krər) n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.