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[hek-uh-tohm, -toom] /ˈhɛk əˌtoʊm, -ˌtum/
(in ancient Greece and Rome) a public sacrifice of 100 oxen to the gods.
any great slaughter:
the hecatombs of modern wars.
Origin of hecatomb
1585-95; < Latin hecatombē < Greek hekatómbē < *hekatombwā, equivalent to hékaton one hundred + *-bwā, taken to be a derivative of boûs ox (see cow1) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hecatomb
Historical Examples
  • He escorted Chryseis on board and sent moreover a hecatomb for the god.

    The Iliad Homer
  • The hunter turns faint, sick, as he contemplates this hecatomb of corpses.

    The Death Shot Mayne Reid
  • They would first make a hecatomb of their hated foes, and then fall upon it.

    The Lone Ranche Captain Mayne Reid
  • Make a hecatomb of the present Hamleys all at once, while you are about it.

    Wives and Daughters

    Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • Pile up, high as heaven, your hecatomb of victims, offered to the God of love.

    The Spanish Brothers Deborah Alcock
  • Yearly will Charless Bath claim its hecatomb; I know not why.

    My Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum Herman Charles Merivale
  • Consumption had swept a hecatomb of victims from the family.

    The Eustace Diamonds

    Anthony Trollope
  • Before falling, I should make a hecatomb of my cowardly assassins.

    The Bandolero Mayne Reid
  • I believe, in different climes, I have already sacrificed an hecatomb to my Nemesis, in pursuance of this vow.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Then Cinna, who not long before would have laughed at faith in Hecate, sacrificed a hecatomb to her.

    Let us follow Him Henryk Sienkiewicz
British Dictionary definitions for hecatomb


/ˈhɛkəˌtəʊm; -ˌtuːm/
(in ancient Greece or Rome) any great public sacrifice and feast, originally one in which 100 oxen were sacrificed
a great sacrifice
Word Origin
C16: from Latin hecatombē, from Greek hekatombē, from hekaton hundred + bous ox
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hecatomb

1590s, from Greek hekatombe "offering of 100 oxen," but generally "a great public sacrifice," from hekaton "one hundred" (perhaps from hen, neuter of eis "one" + *katon "hundred") + bous "ox." The first month of the Attic calendar (corresponding to July-August) was Hekatombaion, in which sacrifices were made.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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