from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage, especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or a person.
  • n. A victim offered in this way.
  • n. Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.
  • n. Something so forfeited.
  • n. Relinquishment of something at less than its presumed value.
  • n. Something so relinquished.
  • n. A loss so sustained.
  • n. Baseball A sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly.
  • transitive v. To offer as a sacrifice to a deity.
  • transitive v. To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.
  • transitive v. To sell or give away at a loss.
  • intransitive v. To make or offer a sacrifice.
  • intransitive v. Baseball To make a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To offer (something) as a gift to a deity.
  • v. To give away (something valuable) to get at least a possibility to gain something else of value (such as self-respect, trust, love, freedom, prosperity), or to avoid an even greater loss.
  • v. To trade (a value of higher worth) for one of lesser worth in order to gain something else valued more such as an ally or business relationship or to avoid an even greater loss; to sell without profit to gain something other than money.
  • v. (chess) To intentionally give up (a piece) in order to improve one’s position on the board.
  • v. (baseball) To advance (a runner on base) by batting the ball so it can be caught or fielded, placing the batter out, but with insufficient time to put the runner out.
  • n. Something sacrificed.
  • n. A play in which the batter is intentionally out in order that runners can advance around the bases.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The offering of anything to God, or to a god; consecratory rite.
  • n. Anything consecrated and offered to God, or to a divinity; an immolated victim, or an offering of any kind, laid upon an altar, or otherwise presented in the way of religious thanksgiving, atonement, or conciliation.
  • n. Destruction or surrender of anything for the sake of something else; devotion of some desirable object in behalf of a higher object, or to a claim deemed more pressing; hence, also, the thing so devoted or given up.
  • n. A sale at a price less than the cost or the actual value.
  • intransitive v. To make offerings to God, or to a deity, of things consumed on the altar; to offer sacrifice.
  • transitive v. To make an offering of; to consecrate or present to a divinity by way of expiation or propitiation, or as a token acknowledgment or thanksgiving; to immolate on the altar of God, in order to atone for sin, to procure favor, or to express thankfulness.
  • transitive v. Hence, to destroy, surrender, or suffer to be lost, for the sake of obtaining something; to give up in favor of a higher or more imperative object or duty; to devote, with loss or suffering.
  • transitive v. To destroy; to kill.
  • transitive v. To sell at a price less than the cost or the actual value.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make an offering or sacrifice of; present as an expression of thanksgiving, consecration, penitence, or reconciliation.
  • To surrender, give up, or suffer to be lost or destroyed for the sake of something else.
  • To dispose of regardless of gain or advantage.
  • Synonyms Sacrifice, Immolate. By the original meaning, sacrifice might apply to offerings of any sort, but immolate only to sacrifices of life: this distinction still continues, except that, as most sacrifices have been the offering of life, sacrifice has come to mean that presumably. It has taken on several figurative meanings, while immolate has come to seem a strong word, especially appropriate to the offering of a large number of lives or of a valuable life. Immolation is naturally for propitiation, while sacrifice may be for that or only for worship.
  • To offer up a sacrifice; make offerings to a deity, especially by the slaughter and burning of victims, or of some part of them, on an altar.
  • In base-ball, to make a fair hit, so as to advance a base-runner, while giving the opportunity to put out the batter.
  • n. The offering of anything to a deity; a consecratory rite.
  • n. That which is sacrificed; specifically, that which is consecrated and offered to a deity as an expression of thanksgiving, consecration, penitence, or reconciliation. See offering.
  • n. The destruction, surrender, or giving up of some prized or desirable thing in behalf of a higher object, or to a claim considered more pressing; the loss incurred by devotion to some other person or interest; also, the thing so devoted or given up.
  • n. Surrender or loss of profit.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. endure the loss of
  • v. make a sacrifice of; in religious rituals
  • v. kill or destroy
  • n. personnel that are sacrificed (e.g., surrendered or lost in order to gain an objective)
  • n. a loss entailed by giving up or selling something at less than its value
  • n. the act of losing or surrendering something as a penalty for a mistake or fault or failure to perform etc.
  • n. the act of killing (an animal or person) in order to propitiate a deity
  • n. (baseball) an out that advances the base runners
  • v. sell at a loss


Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sacrificium : sacer, sacred; see sacred + facere, to make; see dhē- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin sacrificium ("sacrifice"), from sacrificō ("make or offer a sacrifice"), from sacer ("sacred, holy"), + faciō ("do, make"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Nigerian English - bribe to Police at road junctions.

    September 17, 2008

  • "Most of the Mayan Gods were reptiles and had both positive and negative aspects. In order to get into Heaven one had to sacrifice something very great.... and Heaven was off limits for anyone but one who had not been hanged, one who had been sacrificed, in some way, or women who had died in childbirth. As you will see from the sacrifice below, Mayan religious ceremonies involved prayer, dancing, dramatic
    performances and sacrifice.

    Sacrifice was because the Gods required food from Humanity if they were going to answer prayers. Most often this meant human sacrifice, though food was also offered. The offerings were all of blood, and usually the blood of Priests was required. This meant that the Priest would pierce a part of their body, to 'give' blood to the Gods. The parts usually pierced were the tongue, lips ears and penis. The higher the Priest, the more blood was expected.

    Some ceremonies required that the Priest would hold down the victim, whose heart was then cut out while he was awake, by a man trained in this art. The heart was then charred and the smoke would nourish the Gods."
    - 'The Mayans', Neshamah Emi Miller, 4 Jan 2008.

    January 6, 2008