[ sak-ruh-fahys ]
/ ˈsæk rəˌfaɪs /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: sacrifice / sacrificed / sacrifices / sacrificing on Thesaurus.com


verb (used with object), sac·ri·ficed, sac·ri·fic·ing.

verb (used without object), sac·ri·ficed, sac·ri·fic·ing.

Baseball. to make a sacrifice: He sacrificed with two on and none out.
to offer or make a sacrifice.



Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Meet Grammar Coach

Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing

Meet Grammar Coach

Improve Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of sacrifice

1225–75; (noun) Middle English <Old French <Latin sacrificium, equivalent to sacri- (combining form of sacer holy) + -fic-, combining form of facere to make, do1 + -ium-ium; (v.) Middle English sacrifisen, derivative of the noun


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does sacrifice mean?

A sacrifice is something important or precious that is given up for the sake of gaining something or allowing something to happen that is considered more important, as in I had to work hard and make a lot of sacrifices to achieve success.

The word can also refer to the habitual act of giving things up in this way, as in Achieving success requires hard work and sacrifice.

Sacrifice can also be used as a verb meaning to give something up in this way, as in I had to work hard and sacrifice to achieve success.

Sometimes, the word is used in situations involving surrendering something to prevent something bad from happening, as in She sacrificed herself to save us.

In all of these cases, the thing being sacrificed can be tangible, like a valued object, or intangible, like time or health, as in, I would never sacrifice my health just to make more money.

The word sacrifice is often used in the context of religion to refer to an offering or to the act of offering something to the god or gods being worshipped. Such a sacrifice might be an animal that is killed. The central figure of Christianity, Jesus, is viewed by Christians as having been a sacrifice for the sake of human salvation.

The adjective sacrificial is used to describe things that involve or are given as sacrifices.

Example: There is simply not enough money in the budget, so we’re all going to have to make sacrifices and give up some things that we’re used to having.

Where does sacrifice come from?

The first records of the word sacrifice come from the 1200s. It comes from the Latin sacrificium, from sacer, meaning “holy,” and facere, meaning “to make.” The root sacer is also the basis for words like sacred and sacrilege.

Sacrifice is always used in the context of giving something up for a higher purpose, whether that purpose is religious or not. The thing being sacrificed, even if precious, is considered less important than what giving it up can allow to happen. Synonyms of the verb sacrifice include surrender and forfeit. The verb phrase give up can mean the same thing but is more casual.

In chess, a player is said to sacrifice a piece when they allow it to be captured in order to gain an advantage. In baseball, the word sacrifice refers to a play that helps a baserunner to advance but that will (likely) result in an out for the batter, such as a sacrifice fly.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to sacrifice?

What are some synonyms for sacrifice?

What are some words that share a root or word element with sacrifice?

What are some words that often get used in discussing sacrifice?

How is sacrifice used in real life?

The word sacrifice can be used in many different contexts. In all cases, it involves offering or surrendering something for the purpose of a cause considered more important than the thing being given up.

Try using sacrifice!

Which of the following words is a synonym of sacrifice?

A. surrender
B. forfeit
C. give up
D. all of the above

Example sentences from the Web for sacrifice

British Dictionary definitions for sacrifice

/ (ˈsækrɪˌfaɪs) /



to make a sacrifice (of); give up, surrender, or destroy (a person, thing, etc)
chess to permit or force one's opponent to capture (a piece) freely, as in playing a combination or gambithe sacrificed his queen and checkmated his opponent on the next move

Derived forms of sacrifice

sacrificeable, adjectivesacrificer, noun

Word Origin for sacrifice

C13: via Old French from Latin sacrificium, from sacer holy + facere to make
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