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See also: génocide


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Coined in 1943 by Polish-Jewish legal scholar Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959) to describe what the Nazis perpetrated against the Jewish people in the Holocaust.[1][2][3] From the stem of Ancient Greek γένος (génos, race, kind) or Latin gēns (tribe, clan) (as in genus), +‎ -cide (killing, killer).


  • IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒɛnəsaɪd/


genocide (countable and uncountable, plural genocides)

  1. The systematic killing of substantial numbers of people on the basis of their ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, social status, or other particularities.
    • 1986, James Stuart Olson, Raymond Wilson, Native Americans in the Twentieth Century, ISBN 0252012852:
      Native Americans in the twentieth century are no longer a "vanishing race" or a silent minority. They have survived centuries of cultural genocide inflicted on them by non-Native Americans— both the well-meaning and the self-seeking— []

Usage notes[edit]

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Genocide is defined in various laws, and used in varying ways; characterization of an act as “genocide” is a strong condemnation, and may prove contentious.

Narrowly speaking, genocide was coined to mean, and is generally used in law to mean, the destruction of an ethnic group qua group, whether killing of all members of the group or other means, such as dispersing the group. In common usage, “genocide” is often used to mean “systematic mass killing”, whether or not the purpose is the destruction of the group or some other purpose, such as terrorizing the group.

Specific genocides are often capitalized, e.g. "Armenian Genocide".

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also[edit]


genocide (third-person singular simple present genocides, present participle genociding, simple past and past participle genocided)

  1. To commit genocide (against); to eliminate (a group of people) completely.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Daniel Levy, The Holocaust and Memory in the Global Age (2006, ISBN 1592132766), page 91: "In 1943, Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew, coined the term "genocide" for the deliberate extermination of a people. Without a doubt, the Holocaust provided the occasion for Lemkin's attempts to warn the world of the systematic annihilation of particular groups, [] "
  3. ^ Hyde, Jennifer (2 December, 2008). "Polish Jew gave his life defining, fighting genocide". CNN.