[ hol-uh-kawst, hoh-luh- ]
See synonyms for holocaust on Thesaurus.com
  1. a great or complete devastation or destruction, especially by fire.

  2. a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.

  1. Usually the Holocaust . the systematic mass slaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

  2. any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.

Origin of holocaust

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English, from Late Latin holocaustum (Vulgate), from Greek holókauston (Septuagint), neuter of holókaustos “burnt whole”; see holo-, caustic

Other words for holocaust

Other words from holocaust

  • hol·o·caus·tal, adjective
  • hol·o·caus·tic, adjective

Words Nearby holocaust

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use holocaust in a sentence

  • He shall offer the lamb, and the sacrifice, and the oil morning by morning: an everlasting holocaust.

  • Next day the ceremony was to be continued by a holocaust of pigs.

  • What difference between the holocaust of a witch and that of two vile criminals?

    A German Pompadour | Marie Hay
  • Indeed, it was the grave of the soldier boy who had been the first to fall in the terrible holocaust of war.

    The Broken Sword | Dennison Worthington
  • At a guess, McAllen had constructed it as a secure personal retreat in the event of something like a nuclear holocaust.

    Gone Fishing | James H. Schmitz

British Dictionary definitions for holocaust


/ (ˈhɒləˌkɔːst) /

  1. great destruction or loss of life or the source of such destruction, esp fire

  2. Also called: the Churban, the Shoah (usually capital) 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

  1. a rare word for burnt offering

Origin of holocaust

C13: from Late Latin holocaustum whole burnt offering, from Greek holokauston, from holo- + kaustos, from kaiein to burn

Derived forms of holocaust

  • holocaustal or holocaustic, adjective

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

Cultural definitions for Holocaust


[ (hol-uh-kawst, hoh-luh-kawst) ]

The killing of some six million Jews (see also 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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.