Definition of slaughter in English:



[with object]
  • 1Kill (animals) for food.

    ‘at present the abattoir is slaughtering animals for the domestic market’
    • ‘So we slaughtered our own pigs and chickens and stuff for food.’
    • ‘We eat Halaal food, animals slaughtered in a special religious way.’
    • ‘No rights are granted to animals raised and slaughtered for food.’
    • ‘This year too, animals including camels, cows and sheep were slaughtered openly violating the Animal Sacrifices Act.’
    • ‘Every year in Canada thousands of horses are slaughtered; not for glue, or dog food, but for human consumption.’
    • ‘That's not exactly an impressive figure, especially since that leather is obtained from animals who are slaughtered for food anyway.’
    • ‘Animals are slaughtered, and food and drinks are brought to feed the mourners.’
    • ‘Various cows and calves were slaughtered after the animals were inspected by a team from the council and a veterinarian.’
    • ‘Thus, even though nomads have to get much of their food by slaughtering animals from their herds, their way of life is still religiously respectable.’
    • ‘When I say meat, I do mean slaughtered animals killed for food.’
    • ‘I don't have a moral dilemma when it comes to slaughtering animals for food, just so long as it is done humanely.’
    • ‘Animals that once had to be slaughtered to provide winter food could now be sustained through the winter for future ploughing.’
    • ‘No cattle aged more than 30 months were allowed to be slaughtered for food.’
    • ‘It is possible to humanely raise and slaughter a variety of food animals, including free-range poultry and beef cattle.’
    • ‘I was horrified at abuses of animal welfare regulations in the treatment of sheep being slaughtered at the premises.’
    • ‘Beef, chicken, lamb and turkey meat is acceptable only if the animals are slaughtered according to Islamic law.’
    • ‘By the time the animal is slaughtered for food, it has ingested high concentrations of radioactive material.’
    • ‘Many are slaughtered for pet food or sold to continental abattoirs.’
    • ‘Once the pigs are slaughtered, Graham, who is a butcher by trade, makes sausages using his own recipes.’
    • ‘Its one diseased cow was slaughtered in January and probably made into pet food.’
    kill, butcher
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Kill (people or animals) in a cruel or violent way, typically in large numbers.
      ‘innocent civilians are being slaughtered’
      • ‘Several thousand were slaughtered in this sporadic sectarian violence which continued intermittently after 1795.’
      • ‘The three feuding groups adopted extremely cruel methods to slaughter each other and engage in ethnic cleansing.’
      • ‘Whole villages were put to the sword, livestock was slaughtered, crops destroyed and famine and disease decimated the survivors.’
      • ‘The Nazis slaughtered millions of innocent civilians.’
      • ‘But troops from his division slaughtered more than 300 civilians at My Lai in 1968.’
      • ‘Thousands of innocent civilians were slaughtered by the various factions seeking to exterminate their rival tribes.’
      • ‘Over the next few hours, at least 350 civilians were systematically slaughtered.’
      • ‘Some 80,000 people - the vast majority civilians - were slaughtered in that war.’
      • ‘Under Rather's gentle coaxing, Southards described slaughtering Vietnamese civilians, making his work appear to be that of the North Vietnamese.’
      • ‘The new powers will enable the Executive to slaughter pet birds - and even dogs and cats.’
      • ‘Its leader, Richard Plantagenet, reoccupied Acre, executing prisoners and slaughtering its inhabitants.’
      • ‘Do not rely on strategic bombing that slaughters civilians and breeds more hatred - and therefore more terrorists.’
      • ‘Since March, 20,000 ducks have been slaughtered and about a million eggs have been destroyed, it said.’
      • ‘I think, on the other hand, if we are over there slaughtering civilians, that is a great story and we ought to report it immediately.’
      • ‘Councillor Douglas said civilians would have been slaughtered had the device gone off.’
      • ‘He roared in anger and charged toward Anya while she was distracted and slaughtered her violently.’
      • ‘If these officials are telling the truth, they gave in because they believed NATO was about to destroy urban Serbia and slaughter the civilian population.’
      • ‘Now that they terrorise, murder, and, frankly, slaughter innocent children, we are at the most depraved end of the spectrum of all.’
      • ‘Leaders of the Catholic Church still insist that anything from 25,000 to 35,000 civilians were slaughtered.’
      • ‘Now Hallam has become a renegade, slaughtering innocent civilians without a shred of guilt or remorse.’
      massacre, murder, butcher, kill, kill off, annihilate, exterminate, execute, liquidate, eliminate, destroy, decimate, wipe out, mow down, cut down, cut to pieces, put to the sword, put to death, send to the gas chambers
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2informal Defeat (an opponent) thoroughly.
      ‘the first team were slaughtered’
      • ‘I'm going ‘ah no, I've just got away’ but up we went and I got hammered, absolutely slaughtered.’
      • ‘In the first game of the summer cup, Walkers' dominoes team were slaughtered.’
      • ‘Bradford took the morning's foursomes 8-4 with Ian Martin and Roche slaughtering their opponents 7 & 6.’
      • ‘If they are indeed as poor as Mr English and others would have us believe, then a media slaughtering of the other teams is long overdue.’
      defeat utterly, trounce, annihilate, beat hollow, drub, give a drubbing to, crush, rout
      View synonyms


mass noun
  • 1The killing of animals for food.

    ‘thousands of calves were exported to the continent for slaughter’
    • ‘This has very serious implications for us in that animals going to slaughter are not normally affected by the 20-day standstill rule.’
    • ‘The mass slaughter of animals seized from wildlife markets in Guangdong province was launched despite appeals for caution by the World Health Organisation.’
    • ‘The slaughter of the healthy animals at Otterburn Hall farm followed a mix-up of addresses, resulting in the accidental cull of 80 per cent of the stock.’
    • ‘Both pathogens can colonise the intestines of beef cattle and get into the food chain during slaughter at the abattoir.’
    • ‘Children in particular should not have to witness wholesale slaughter of animals to which they may have become very attached.’
    • ‘Mr. Walsh reminded producers and processors that the movement of such animals other than for slaughter and accompanied by the relevant permit is strictly prohibited.’
    • ‘The Bible records many examples of the slaughter of animals for food, products or purpose.’
    • ‘The ultimate objective of the campaign was to prevent slaughter of animals for man's food.’
    • ‘The course covers meat processing from slaughter to packaging, food preparation and export compliance, health and safety, and communication skills.’
    • ‘If, on the other hand, it has spread and is affecting more than one species, a combination of vaccination and judicious slaughter of the worst-affected animals is the solution.’
    • ‘Pre-slaughter stunning was introduced in 1933 to protect abattoir personnel, not animals, by immobilising the animal to facilitate slaughter.’
    • ‘The European Parliament recently voted for an end to the long distance transportation of animals destined for slaughter or further fattening.’
    • ‘The media is riddled with gruesome tales of slaughter and the killing of animals ‘presumed’ infected.’
    • ‘The price of New Ponies is as low as £5 each, making them attractive for transport and slaughter on the Continent.’
    • ‘At least 7,000 animals already face slaughter.’
    • ‘The animals transported from other States for slaughter should be given proper food, water and a resting place till they are killed’
    • ‘The pre-emptive slaughter of healthy animals was extended by the administrations in Whitehall and Edinburgh yesterday.’
    • ‘The bottom line is that it has presided over the largely unnecessary slaughter of 7.7 million animals, yet it cannot confirm foot-and-mouth has been eliminated.’
    • ‘World hunger is directly related to the breeding and killing of animals for slaughter, it is pointed out.’
    • ‘Ferguson, whose models shaped government policy, said other culls should not have been adopted and only led to the unnecessary slaughter of healthy animals.’
    1. 1.1 The killing of a large number of people or animals in a cruel or violent way.
      ‘the slaughter of 20 peaceful demonstrators’
      • ‘Jewish leaders have repeatedly pressed for full disclosure to determine what Pius XII did or didn't do to stop Hitler's slaughter of millions of Jews.’
      • ‘Those possibilities, it seems, now extend to violent slaughter of the type previously monopolised by male action heroes.’
      • ‘We therefore have a duty to play a role in stopping the imperialist slaughter and preventing the spread of the war to other Arab countries.’
      • ‘This is a racist holocaust, where people are targeted for slaughter because of their ethnicity - yet many people deny this basic truth.’
      • ‘Internal factionalism is unlikely to reach the level of Yugoslavia after the fall of the communists, since US air power can be invoked to stop mass slaughter.’
      • ‘What exactly will it take for the United States and the international community to step in and stop the wholesale slaughter of innocents?’
      • ‘He raised the issue again this past Sunday, threatening war unless the government sets up a commission to investigate the alleged ethnic slaughter in Bukavu.’
      • ‘Brutal conquests to be sure, his bloody wake of slaughter in the violent thirteenth century led to the murder of untold millions.’
      • ‘The world has watched genocide happening in Rwanda but we were too busy worrying about our own needs to look up and call anyone to stop the slaughter.’
      • ‘What Rwanda teaches is that, really, any pretext for division - even violent division, and slaughter - will do.’
      • ‘This sombre celebration was introduced after the First World War, to mark and honour the day on which the guns fell silent on the Western Front and the slaughter stopped in 1918.’
      • ‘As the toll of dead seals increased, charter boat skippers around Oban who make their money from nature-loving tourists, demanded immediate action to stop the slaughter.’
      • ‘Powell said the deal could help end the ethnic slaughter in Darfur, which the United States government has declared a genocide.’
      • ‘The U.N.'s inability to stop the slaughter in Cambodia was a great failure.’
      • ‘Yet Amin took the use of murder as a way of dealing with all enemies, real or imagined, to new heights in Uganda and conducted his campaign of slaughter with cruel relish.’
      • ‘‘Mbeki, stop the senseless slaughter of our families,’ read one large poster.’
      • ‘Perhaps you should back down, stop supporting the mass slaughter of unborn babies, and go off somewhere real quiet and decide whether you really want to be a Catholic.’
      • ‘You can tell that's all men fantasize about: violence and wholesale slaughter.’
      • ‘His programme of slaughter was only stopped in 1979 by an uprising.’
      • ‘Who is in Liberia right now stopping this slaughter that befell that country after Charles Taylor's escape?’
      massacre, murder, murdering
      carnage, bloodshed, indiscriminate bloodshed, bloodletting
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2informal count noun A thorough defeat.
      ‘a magnificent 5–0 slaughter of Coventry’
      • ‘Most people would have considered this almost a slaughter of Cappagh by the Larries Lassies but my source tells me that it was a tough match and that Cappagh were very determined.’
      • ‘With such a remarkable home record, Celtic's problem is that, even when they are not at full-strength, anything less than a routine slaughter will be deemed inadequate.’
      • ‘The constant rumblings in his party have grown loud again, and some of his candidates fear a slaughter at the polls.’
      • ‘Not so long ago, Yorkshire's star Tory retreated onto the backbenches after leading his side to a slaughter in 2001, but it represented the dawn of a new career making mega-bucks.’
      • ‘A right hook flush to the jaw followed by a straight left and another right hook to the trapped Cecane, prompted referee Lulama Mtya to step in and stop the one-sided slaughter.’
      • ‘It wasn't a slaughter by any means, just that Dublin were hitting all the right notes now whereas Kerry were staccato-like in all their efforts.’
      • ‘Like many, I tuned in expecting a slaughter and was captivated for 80 minutes by what will be regarded as one of the classic games in rugby history.’
      • ‘The setbacks were so severe that the leader announced his resignation after losing several members of his frontbench in an election slaughter.’
      • ‘This is a slaughter of the two candidates who seemed to have Iowa locked up between them.’
      • ‘Indeed, such was the Aussie dominance in the third quarter that a slaughter seemed on the cards and was only avoided by some deep digging into inner reserves by a number of the Irish players.’
      crushing defeat, annihilation, drubbing, trouncing, rout
      View synonyms


Middle English (as a noun): from Old Norse slátr ‘butcher's meat’; related to slay. The verb dates from the mid 16th century.