slaughter

Slaughter refers to the killing of large numbers of animals or people. When cattle are old enough, they're sent to slaughter and their meat is processed and shipped to stores.

The noun slaughter was first used in the 1300s and comes from the Old Norse word slahtr, which also described the mass killing of animals or people. A verb form came along later, in the 1530s. You might hear slaughter used to describe the killing of large numbers of people in a war, a genocide, or a massacre. It also can be used figuratively to describe a crushing defeat, like the slaughter of your basketball team by your bitter rivals.

Definitions of slaughter
  1. noun
    the killing of animals (as for food)
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    type of:
    kill, killing, putting to death
    the act of terminating a life
  2. noun
    the savage and excessive killing of many people
    synonyms: butchery, carnage, mass murder, massacre
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    examples:
    Alamo
    a siege and massacre at a mission in San Antonio in 1836; Mexican forces under Santa Anna besieged and massacred American rebels who were fighting to make Texas independent of Mexico
    Battle of the Little Bighorn
    a battle in Montana near the Little Bighorn River between United States cavalry under Custer and several groups of Native Americans (1876); Custer was pursuing Sioux led by Sitting Bull; Custer underestimated the size of the Sioux forces (which were supported by Cheyenne warriors) and was killed along with all his command
    types:
    battue, bloodbath, bloodletting, bloodshed
    indiscriminate slaughter
    type of:
    execution, murder, slaying
    unlawful premeditated killing of a human being by a human being
  3. noun
    a sound defeat
    synonyms: debacle, drubbing, thrashing, trouncing, walloping, whipping
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    type of:
    defeat, licking
    an unsuccessful ending to a struggle or contest
  4. verb
    kill (animals) usually for food consumption
    “They slaughtered their only goat to survive the winter”
    synonyms: butcher
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    types:
    chine
    cut through the backbone of an animal
    type of:
    kill
    cause to die; put to death, usually intentionally or knowingly
  5. verb
    kill a large number of people indiscriminately
    synonyms: massacre, mow down
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    type of:
    kill
    cause to die; put to death, usually intentionally or knowingly
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