a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency: a victim of an automobile accident.
a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency: a victim of misplaced confidence; the victim of a swindler; a victim of an optical illusion.
a person or animal sacrificed or regarded as sacrificed: war victims.
a living creature sacrificed in religious rites.

Origin of victim

First recorded in 1490–1500, victim is from the Latin word victima sacrificial animal
Related formsvic·tim·hood, nounvic·tim·less, adjectivenon·vic·tim, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for victim

Contemporary Examples of victim

Historical Examples of victim

  • He was not naturally bad, but he had fallen a victim to sudden temptation.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Major John Postell had been pitched upon as the first victim.

  • He had been defied, trapped, made a victim of the gang who had killed his most valued informer.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Between him and her as the victim of the law, there could be no hesitation for choice.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • "You'll have to cut down your victim before I get there," grinned Chip.

British Dictionary definitions for victim



a person or thing that suffers harm, death, etc, from another or from some adverse act, circumstance, etcvictims of tyranny
a person who is tricked or swindled; dupe
a living person or animal sacrificed in a religious rite

Word Origin for victim

C15: from Latin victima


Using the word victim or victims in relation to chronic illness or disability is often considered demeaning and disempowering. Alternative phrases such as who experiences, who has been diagnosed with, or simply with and then the name of the disability or illness, can be used instead
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 victim

late 15c., "living creature killed and offered as a sacrifice to a deity or supernatural power," from Latin victima "person or animal killed as a sacrifice." Perhaps distantly connected to Old English wig "idol," Gothic weihs "holy," German weihen "consecrate" (cf. Weihnachten "Christmas") on notion of "a consecrated animal." Sense of "person who is hurt, tortured, or killed by another" is first recorded 1650s; meaning "person oppressed by some power or situation" is from 1718. Weaker sense of "person taken advantage of" is recorded from 1781.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper