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From Middle English sanguinarie, from Latin sanguinārius.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈsæŋɡwɪnəɹi/
    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈsæŋɡwɪnɛɹi/
  • Hyphenation: san‧gui‧nar‧y


sanguinary (comparative more sanguinary, superlative most sanguinary)

  1. (of an event) Involving bloodshed.
    Synonyms: bloody, gory
    • 1625, Francis Bacon, "Unity in Religion" (Google preview):
      We may not propagate religion by wars, or by sanguinary persecutions to force consciences.
    • 1887, H[enry] Rider Haggard, chapter XIII, in Allan Quatermain[1]:
      " [] every one of which took its rise from some noble family that succeeded in grasping the purple after a sanguinary struggle."
    • 1933, “The Korean War and the Closing Years A.D. 645-50”, in Son of Heaven: A Biography of Li Shih-Min, founder of the T’ang Dynasty[2], Cambridge University Press, published 1971, →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 187:
      It was not merely distaste for court life at Ch’ang An that urged the emperor to make war upon this country. China had substantial grievances against the peninsula kingdom. In the year A.D. 642 P’ing Jang, the Korean capital, had been convulsed by a revolution more sanguinary and more successful than that which had menaced the Chinese court.
  2. (of a person) Eager to shed blood; bloodthirsty.
    Synonyms: bloodthirsty, bloody-minded, butcherous, slaughterous
    • c. 1730, William Broome:
      Passion [] makes us brutal and sanguinary.
    • 1877, Samuel Green, The Life of Mahomet: Founder of the Religion of Islamism and of the Empire of the Saracens with Notices of the History of Islamism and of Arabia[3], page 126:
      "The defence set up for Mahomet is equally availing for every sanguinary and revengeful tyrant; [] "
  3. Consisting of, covered with, or similar in appearance to blood.
    Synonyms: bloodsoaked, bloody, gory
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC:
      I was once, I remember, called to a patient who had received a violent contusion in his tibia, by which the exterior cutis was lacerated, so that there was a profuse sanguinary discharge []
    • 1913, H. G. Wells, Little Wars, Section VI:
      Here is the premeditation, the thrill, the strain of accumulating victory or disaster—and no smashed nor sanguinary bodies [] , that we who are old enough to remember a real modern war know to be the reality of belligerence.
    • 1929, Robert Dean Frisbee, The Book of Puka-Puka, Eland, published 2019, page 117:
      We reached the Point just as a flood of sunset light was dripping from the heavens, staining the lagoon an ominous, sanguinary hue.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Not to be confused with sanguine. Sanguine can mean “optimistic”, while sanguinary means “bloodthirsty, gory”.

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


sanguinary (plural sanguinaries)

  1. A bloodthirsty person.
  2. The plant common yarrow, or herba sanguinaria (Achillea millefolium).