- (in ancient Greece and Rome) a public sacrifice of 100 oxen to the gods.
- any great slaughter: the hecatombs of modern wars.
- (in ancient Greece or Rome) any great public sacrifice and feast, originally one in which 100 oxen were sacrificed
- a great sacrifice
1590s, from Greek hekatombe “offering of 100 oxen,” but generally “a great public sacrifice,” from hekaton “one hundred” (perhaps from hen, neuter of eis “one” + *katon “hundred”) + bous “ox.” The first month of the Attic calendar (corresponding to July-August) was Hekatombaion, in which sacrifices were made.