- An example of Holocaust was the mass slaughter of European Jewish people in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
- An example of holocaust is a forest completely destroyed by fire.
- an offering the whole of which is burned; burnt offering
- a great or total destruction of life, specif. by fire: nuclear holocaust
Origin of holocaustMiddle English ; from Old French holocauste ; from Ecclesiastical Late Latin holocaustum, a whole burnt offering ; from Classical Greek holokauston (neut. of holokaustos), burnt whole ; from holos, whole (see holo-) + kaustos, burnt: see caustic
- Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire.
- a. Holocaust The genocide of European Jews and other groups by the Nazis during World War II: “Israel emerged from the Holocaust and is defined in relation to that catastrophe” (Emanuel Litvinoff).b. A massive slaughter: “an important document in the so-far sketchy annals of the Cambodian holocaust” (Rod Nordland).
- A sacrificial offering that is consumed entirely by flames.
Origin of holocaustMiddle English, burnt offering, from Old French holocauste, from Latin holocaustum, from Greek holokauston, from neuter of holokaustos, burnt whole : holo-, holo- + kaustos, burnt (from kaiein, to burn).
- hol′o·caus′tal, hol′o·caus′tic
- A sacrifice that is completely burned to ashes. [from the 13th c]
- The annihilation or near-annihilation of a group of animals or people, whether by natural or deliberate agency. [from the 19th c]
- nuclear holocaust
- The state-sponsored mass murder of an ethnic group. In particular, the Holocaust (which see). [from the 20th c]
- Use of the word holocaust to depict Jewish suffering under the Nazis dates back to 1942, according to the OED. By the 1970s, The Holocaust was often synonymous with the Jewish exterminations. This use of the term as a synonym for the Jewish exterminations has been criticised because it appears to imply that there was a voluntary religious purpose behind the Nazi actions, which was not the case from either the Nazis' perspective or the victims'. Hence, some people prefer the term Shoah, which means destruction.
- The word continues to be used in its other senses. For example, part of the action of a BBC radio drama by James Follett in 1981 takes place in “Holocaust City”, which by inference was named because the inhabitants were the only survivors of a global nuclear war.
- For more information on the use of the term Holocaust, see the entry Holocaust.
From French holocauste, from Late Latin holocaustum, from the neuter form of Ancient Greek ὁλόκαυστος (holokaustos), from ὅλος (holos, “whole”) + καύστος (kaustos, “burnt”), from καίω (kaiō, “I burn”)
- (historical, narrowly) The systematic mass murder (genocide) of 6 million Jews perpetrated by Nazi Germany shortly before and during World War II.
- (historical, broadly) The systematic mass murder (democide) of 11 million people, namely 6 million Jews and 5 million others (including Romanis, Slavs, homosexuals, transgender people, non-whites and disabled people), perpetrated by Nazi Germany shortly before and during World War II.
- Whether the term "Holocaust" is a designation for the mass murder of 11 million people or only for the genocide of 6 million Jews is hotly contested.
- The genocide of the European Jews may be unambiguously referred to as the Shoah. The genocide of the Romani people has the specific designation Porajmos.
- For more information on the origin and early uses of the term holocaust, see the usage note about holocaust.