[ slaw-ter ]
See synonyms for slaughter on
  1. the killing or butchering of cattle, sheep, etc., especially for food.

  2. the brutal or violent killing of a person.

  1. the killing of great numbers of people or animals indiscriminately; carnage: the slaughter of war.

verb (used with object)
  1. to kill or butcher (animals), especially for food.

  2. to kill in a brutal or violent manner.

  1. to slay in great numbers; massacre.

  2. Informal. to defeat thoroughly; trounce: They slaughtered our team.

Origin of slaughter

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English slaghter, slahter, slauther (noun), from Old Norse slātr, earlier slāttr, slahtr

synonym study For slaughter

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.

Other words for slaughter

Other words from slaughter

  • slaugh·ter·er, noun
  • slaugh·ter·ing·ly, adverb
  • un·slaugh·tered, adjective

Words Nearby slaughter

Other definitions for Slaughter (2 of 2)

[ slaw-ter ]

  1. Frank, 1908–2001, U.S. novelist and physician. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use slaughter in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for slaughter


/ (ˈslɔːtə) /

  1. the killing of animals, esp for food

  2. the savage killing of a person

  1. the indiscriminate or brutal killing of large numbers of people, as in war; massacre

  2. informal a resounding defeat

  1. to kill (animals), esp for food

  2. to kill in a brutal manner

  1. to kill indiscriminately or in large numbers

  2. informal to defeat resoundingly

Origin of slaughter

Old English sleaht; related to Old Norse slāttar hammering, slātr butchered meat, Old High German slahta, Gothic slauhts, German Schlacht battle

Derived forms of slaughter

  • slaughterer, noun
  • slaughterous, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with slaughter


see like a lamb to the slaughter.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.