GG: n

S: UN – (last access: 18 October 2015); BBC – (last access: 3 September 2014).

N: 1. 1944, apparently coined by Polish-born U.S. jurist Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) in his work “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe” (p.19), in reference to Nazi extermination of Jews, literally “killing a tribe,” from Greek genos “race, kind” (see genus) + –cide. The proper formation would be *genticide.
2. Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aimed at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. (Lemkin)
3. Earlier in a similar sense was populicide (1799), from French populicide, by 1792, a word from the Revolution. This was taken into German, as in Völkermeuchelnden “genocidal” (Heine), which was Englished 1893 as folk-murdering.
4. genocidal (adj.): 1948, from genocide + -al (1). Related: Genocidally.
5. holocaust (n.): mid-13c., “sacrifice by fire, burnt offering,” from Greek holokauston “a thing wholly burnt,” neuter of holokaustos “burned whole,” from holos “whole” (see holo-) + kaustos, verbal adjective of kaiein “to burn.” Originally a Bible word for “burnt offerings,” given wider sense of “massacre, destruction of a large number of persons” from 1833. The Holocaust “Nazi genocide of European Jews in World War II,” first recorded 1957, earlier known in Hebrew as Shoah “catastrophe.” The word itself was used in English in reference to Hitler’s Jewish policies from 1942, but not as a proper name for them.
6. The deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, or race. The term, derived from the Greek genos (“race,” “tribe,” or “nation”) and the Latin cide (“killing”), was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-born jurist who served as an adviser to the U.S. Department of War during World War II.
7. Cultural interrelation: The phrase passed into the language with the release in 1984 of the film The Killing Fields. The genocidal connotation is now dominant, while the original sense of the second element of “killing field” as indicating a rural rather than an urban area has lost its distinctive force.

S: 1 to 5. OED – (last access: 3 September 2014). 6. EncBrit – (last access: 3 September 2014). 7. TERMIUM PLUS – (last access: 3 September 2014).


CR: amnesty, concentration camp, homicide, war crime.