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1. A large-scale sacrifice or slaughter.
2. A sacrifice to the ancient Greek or Roman gods consisting originally of 100 oxen or cattle.

[Latin hecatombē, from Greek hekatombē : hekaton, hundred; see dekm̥ in Indo-European roots + -bē, oxen; see gwou- in Indo-European roots.]


(ˈhɛkəˌtəʊm; -ˌtuːm)
1. (Historical Terms) (in ancient Greece or Rome) any great public sacrifice and feast, originally one in which 100 oxen were sacrificed
2. a great sacrifice
[C16: from Latin hecatombē, from Greek hekatombē, from hekaton hundred + bous ox]


(ˈhɛk əˌtoʊm, -ˌtum)

1. (in ancient Greece and Rome) a public sacrifice of 100 oxen to the gods.
2. any great slaughter.
[1585–95; < Latin hecatombē < Greek hekatómbē <*hekatombwā=hékaton one hundred + *-bwā, derivative of boûs ox (see cow1)]


1. a sacrifice of one hundred oxen at one time, as in ancient Greece.
2. any slaughter on a large scale; a massacre.
See also: Killing
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.hecatomb - a great sacrifice; an ancient Greek or Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen
ritual killing, sacrifice - the act of killing (an animal or person) in order to propitiate a deity


One or more living creatures slain and offered to a deity as part of a religious rite:
References in classic literature ?
Let us ask some priest or prophet, or some reader of dreams (for dreams, too, are of Jove) who can tell us why Phoebus Apollo is so angry, and say whether it is for some vow that we have broken, or hecatomb that we have not offered, and whether he will accept the savour of lambs and goats without blemish, so as to take away the plague from us.
He will not deliver the Danaans from this pestilence till Agamemnon has restored the girl without fee or ransom to her father, and has sent a holy hecatomb to Chryse.
But of this we will take thought hereafter; for the present, let us draw a ship into the sea, and find a crew for her expressly; let us put a hecatomb on board, and let us send Chryseis also; further, let some chief man among us be in command, either Ajax, or Idomeneus, or yourself, son of Peleus, mighty warrior that you are, that we may offer sacrifice and appease the the anger of the god.
He escorted Chryseis on board and sent moreover a hecatomb for the god.
They then got out upon the sea-shore and landed the hecatomb for Apollo; Chryseis also left the ship, and Ulysses led her to the altar to deliver her into the hands of her father.
So saying he gave the girl over to her father, who received her gladly, and they ranged the holy hecatomb all orderly round the altar of the god.
Then they offered hecatombs of bulls and goats without blemish on the sea-shore, and the smoke with the savour of their sacrifice rose curling up towards heaven.
They were almost innumerable, and seemed to have been a vast hecatomb offered up in thanksgiving to the Great Spirit for some signal success in the chase.
1} He had gone there to accept a hecatomb of sheep and oxen, and was enjoying himself at his festival; but the other gods met in the house of Olympian Jove, and the sire of gods and men spoke first.
But Anaurus, swelled by a rain- storm, blotted out the grave and memorial of Cycnus; for so Apollo, Leto's son, commanded him, because he used to watch for and violently despoil the rich hecatombs that any might bring to Pytho.
Something had to be done to arrest the hecatomb, so one fine day the Blessed Virgin appeared to Juan Diego, a native, at a hill where the Aztecs venerated Tonantzin, the mother goddess of fertility.
The big droughts of 1877-1879 and 1888-1889 were a true hecatomb in the Brazilian Northeast region, when around 3 million people emigrated from drought-affected areas to main cities, and 600,000 people died in the states of Ceara, Rio Grande do Norte and Paraiba.