Try Our Apps


Blech. These are the grossest words.


[slaw-ter] /ˈslɔ tər/
the killing or butchering of cattle, sheep, etc., especially for food.
the brutal or violent killing of a person.
the killing of great numbers of people or animals indiscriminately; carnage:
the slaughter of war.
verb (used with object)
to kill or butcher (animals), especially for food.
to kill in a brutal or violent manner.
to slay in great numbers; massacre.
Informal. to defeat thoroughly; trounce:
They slaughtered our team.
Origin of slaughter
1250-1300; Middle English slaghter, slahter, slauther (noun) < Old Norse slātr, earlier slāttr, slahtr
Related forms
slaughterer, noun
slaughteringly, adverb
unslaughtered, adjective
2. murder. 4–6. Slaughter, butcher, massacre all imply violent and bloody methods of killing. Slaughter and butcher, primarily referring to the killing of animals for food, are used also of the brutal or indiscriminate killing of human beings: to slaughter cattle; to butcher a hog. Massacre indicates a general slaughtering of helpless or unresisting victims: to massacre the peasants of a region.


[slaw-ter] /ˈslɔ tər/
Frank, 1908–2001, U.S. novelist and physician. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for slaughter
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If the injury be extensive, the best thing the farmer can do is to slaughter the animal.

    A Treatise on Sheep: Ambrose Blacklock
  • Such a slaughter of prices as then occurred was, perhaps, without precedent.

    The Story of the Mormons William Alexander Linn
  • slaughter further surmised, from personal observations, that the northern tribes would remain loyal to the United States.

  • He did not contemplate a general insurrection and slaughter.

    The Negro and the Nation George S. Merriam
  • It was impossible to guard the prisoners while repelling the attack, and a slaughter of them had begun, when the enemy withdrew.

    Battles of English History H. B. (Hereford Brooke) George
British Dictionary definitions for slaughter


the killing of animals, esp for food
the savage killing of a person
the indiscriminate or brutal killing of large numbers of people, as in war; massacre
(informal) a resounding defeat
verb (transitive)
to kill (animals), esp for food
to kill in a brutal manner
to kill indiscriminately or in large numbers
(informal) to defeat resoundingly
Derived Forms
slaughterer, noun
slaughterous, adjective
Word Origin
Old English sleaht; related to Old Norse slāttar hammering, slātr butchered meat, Old High German slahta, Gothic slauhts, German Schlacht battle
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for slaughter

c.1300, "killing of a cattle or sheep for food, killing of a person," from a Scandinavian *slahtr, akin to Old Norse slatr "a butchering, butcher meat," slatra "to slaughter," slattr "a mowing" from Proto-Germanic *slukhtis, related to Old Norse sla "to strike" (see slay (v.)) + formative suffix (cf. laugh/laughter). Meaning "killing of a large number of persons in battle" is attested from mid-14c. Old English had slieht "stroke, slaughter, murder, death; animals for slaughter;" cf. sliehtswyn "pig for killing."


1530s, "butcher an animal for market," from slaughter (n.). Meaning "slay wantonly, ruthlessly, or in great numbers" is from 1580s. Related: Slaughtered; slaughtering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with slaughter
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for slaughter

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for slaughter

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for slaughter