Etymology: Greek á (italbrac, holos) or (italbrac, hol) "whole" + (italbrac, kaustos) "burnt" < (italbrac, kaiein) "to burn". The term traditionally referred to animal sacrifice where the whole animal was burned as an offering. This was only done in exceptional circumstances. Normally only the bones, fat and skin were burned on the altar; the animal"s edible parts were distributed to worshippers to prepare festive dinners.
- A sacrifice to a god that is completely burned to ashes. The following usages are derived:
- The annihilation or near-annihilation of a group of animals or people, whether by natural or deliberate agency (eg "nuclear holocaust")
- The state-sponsored mass murder of an ethnic group. In particular (and often with an initial capital) the "Final Solution", a euphemism used by the Nazis to describe the mass killing of Jews and others either in camps equipped with industrial gassing and crematorium equipment or by more conventional means.
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Full Definition of holocaust