[hek-uh-tohm, -toom]


(in ancient Greece and Rome) a public sacrifice of 100 oxen to the gods.
any great slaughter: the hecatombs of modern wars.

Nearby words

  1. hebrides,
  2. hebron,
  3. hecate,
  4. hecate strait,
  5. hecateromeric,
  6. hechsher,
  7. hecht,
  8. hecht's pneumonia,
  9. hecht, ben,
  10. heck

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)

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hecatomb

British Dictionary definitions for hecatomb



(in ancient Greece or Rome) any great public sacrifice and feast, originally one in which 100 oxen were sacrificed
a great sacrifice

Word Origin for hecatomb

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

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