General English

General Science

  • noun the killing of a large number of animals
  • verb to kill large numbers of animals


  • verb to kill animals for food


  • noun a place where stolen goods are hidden and/or shared out. This example of the jargon of cat burglars was recorded in FHM magazine in April 1996. It probably originated in underworld argot as ‘slaughterhouse’ or ‘slaughter-yard’, but the exact significance is unclear.

Origin & History of “slaughter”

Slaughter was borrowed from Old Norse *slahtr, which went back to the same prehistoric Germanic base (*slakh- ‘strike’) that produced English slay. Old English appears to have had its own version of the word, *slæht, which survived into the 17th century as slaught. this forms the second syllable of onslaught (17th c.), where it replaced the -slag in the borrowing from middle Dutch aenslag (literally ‘onstriking’).