World War 2
Word and Phrase Origins

Where does the term 'Holocaust' come from and how does it apply to the events that happened during World War 2?

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September 20, 2007 12:11AM

In English the word holocaust means destruction (by burning) on a vast scale; the slaughter of the Jews (and Roma and others) by the Nazis in World War 2. The word was first used in writing in English in this second sense (of genocide) - but without the and not as a proper noun - in 1942. The word is derived from Greek holokaustos which means burnt offering or sacrifice in the Biblical sense.