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From Latin hecatombē, from Ancient Greek ἑκατόμβη ‎(hekatómbē), from ἑκατόν ‎(hekatón, hundred) + βοῦς ‎(boûs, ox).



hecatomb ‎(plural hecatombs)

  1. (historical) In ancient Greece or Rome, a great feast and public sacrifice to the gods, originally of a hundred oxen.
  2. Any great sacrifice; a great number of people, animals or things, especially as sacrificed or destroyed; a large amount.
    • 2002, Christopher Hitchens, "Martin Amis: Lightness at Midnight", The Atlantic, Sep 2002:
      In Conquest's opinion, the visceral reaction to Nazism entails a verdict that it was morally worse than Stalinism, even if its eventual hecatomb was a less colossal one.
    • 2006, Karen Armstrong, The Great Transformation, Atlantic Books 2007, p. 31-2:
      During the royal hunt, the Shang killed wild beasts with reckless abandon, and consumed hecatombs of domestic animals at a bin banquet or a funeral.