Coined in 1943 by Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, to describe what the Turkish government perpetrated against the Armenian people between about 1915 and 1918: the Armenian Genocide. From the stem of Ancient Greek γένος (génos, “race, kind”) or Latin gēns (“tribe, clan”) (as in genus), + -cide (“killing, killer”).
- 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— […]
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".
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