1. The killing of animals especially for food.
2. The killing of a large number of people; a massacre: "I could not give my name to aid the slaughter in this war, fought on both sides for grossly material ends" (Sylvia Pankhurst).
tr.v. slaugh·tered, slaugh·ter·ing, slaugh·ters
1. To kill (animals) especially for food; butcher.
a. To kill (people) in large numbers; massacre.
b. To kill in a violent or brutal manner.
[Middle English, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse slātr, butchery.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.