• genocide •
Pronunciation: jen-ê-said • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: The deliberate extermination of a people, race, or similar national group.
Notes: Killing a large number of human beings is a massacre. An attempt to destroy a race is genocide. The adjective is genocidal, the adverb, genocidally.
In Play: The Rwandan genocide was the massacre of an estimated 800,000 to 1,000,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda by Hutu militia groups in a period of only 100 days from April 6th to mid-July 1994. It is depicted in the Academy-award winning movie Hotel Rwanda starring Don Cheadle. The 2006 Nobel Prize winner in literature, Orhan Pamuk, was indicted for embarrassing his country with the simple admission that Ottoman Turks had killed 1 million Armenians living in Turkey in 1915. The French government that year passed an odd law making it illegal to deny the Armenian genocide, which is known throughout the world as an established historical fact.
Word History: Today's Good Word is a combination of Latin genus "race" + cide "killing". -Cide is an Old French suffix from Latin cidium "killing", whose root, cid, is a reduction of the caed in caedere "to cut, chop, kill". Both the original root and the reduction often appear with an S rather than a D in such words as caesura "a pause", incisor, excise, and even decision, an act that cuts off discussion. (The French law mentioned previously and the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, led Peggy Northcraft to think that today's heinously Good Word would be worth remembering.)