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[hol-uh-kawst, hoh-luh-] /ˈhɒl əˌkɔst, ˈhoʊ lə-/
a great or complete devastation or destruction, especially by fire.
a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.
(usually initial capital letter) the systematic mass slaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II (usually preceded by the).
any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.
Origin of holocaust
1200-50; Middle English < Late Latin holocaustum (Vulgate) < Greek holókauston (Septuagint), neuter of holókaustos burnt whole. See holo-, caustic
Related forms
holocaustal, adjective
holocaustic, adjective
1. inferno, conflagration, ruin, havoc, ravage. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for holocaustic


great destruction or loss of life or the source of such destruction, esp fire
(usually capital) Also called the Churban, the Shoah. the mass murder of Jews and members of many other ethnic, social, and political groups in continental Europe between 1940 and 1945 by the Nazi regime
a rare word for burnt offering
Derived Forms
holocaustal, holocaustic, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Late Latin holocaustum whole burnt offering, from Greek holokauston, from holo- + kaustos, from kaiein to burn
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 holocaustic



mid-13c., "sacrifice by fire, burnt offering," from Greek holokauston "a thing wholly burnt," neuter of holokaustos "burned whole," from holos "whole" (see holo-) + kaustos, verbal adjective of kaiein "to burn." Originally a Bible word for "burnt offerings," given wider sense of "massacre, destruction of a large number of persons" from 1833. The Holocaust "Nazi genocide of European Jews in World War II," first recorded 1957, earlier known in Hebrew as Shoah "catastrophe." The word itself was used in English in reference to Hitler's Jewish policies from 1942, but not as a proper name for them.

Auschwitz makes all too clear the principle that the human psyche can create meaning out of anything. [Robert Jay Lifton, "The Nazi Doctors"]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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holocaustic in Culture
Holocaust [(hol-uh-kawst, hoh-luh-kawst)]

The killing of some six million Jews by the Nazis during World War II. To the Nazis, the Holocaust was the “Final Solution” to the “Jewish problem,” and would help them establish a pure German master race. Much of the killing took place in concentration camps, such as Auschwitz and Dachau. (See Adolf Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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