1. the offering of animal, plant, or human life or of some material possession to a deity, as in propitiation or homage.
  2. the person, animal, or thing so offered.
  3. the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.
  4. the thing so surrendered or devoted.
  5. a loss incurred in selling something below its value.
  6. Also called sacrifice bunt, sacrifice hit. Baseball. a bunt made when there are fewer than two players out, not resulting in a double play, that advances the base runner nearest home without an error being committed if there is an attempt to put the runner out, and that results in either the batter’s being put out at first base, reaching first on an error made in the attempt for the put-out, or being safe because of an attempt to put out another runner.

verb (used with object), sac·ri·ficed, sac·ri·fic·ing.

  1. to make a sacrifice or offering of.
  2. to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else.
  3. to dispose of (goods, property, etc.) regardless of profit.
  4. Baseball. to cause the advance of (a base runner) by a sacrifice.

verb (used without object), sac·ri·ficed, sac·ri·fic·ing.

  1. Baseball. to make a sacrifice: He sacrificed with two on and none out.
  2. to offer or make a sacrifice.


  1. a surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable or of preventing some evil
  2. a ritual killing of a person or animal with the intention of propitiating or pleasing a deity
  3. a symbolic offering of something to a deity
  4. the person, animal, or object surrendered, destroyed, killed, or offered
  5. a religious ceremony involving one or more sacrifices
  6. loss entailed by giving up or selling something at less than its value
  7. chess the act or an instance of sacrificing a piece


  1. to make a sacrifice (of); give up, surrender, or destroy (a person, thing, etc)
  2. chess to permit or force one’s opponent to capture (a piece) freely, as in playing a combination or gambithe sacrificed his queen and checkmated his opponent on the next move

n.late 13c., “offering of something (especially a life) to a deity as an act of propitiation or homage;” mid-14c., “that which is offered in sacrifice,” from Old French sacrifise “sacrifice, offering” (12c.), from Latin sacrificium, from sacrificus “performing priestly functions or sacrifices,” from sacra “sacred rites” (properly neuter plural of sacer “sacred;” see sacred) + root of facere “to do, perform” (see factitious). Latin sacrificium is glossed in Old English by ansegdniss. Sense of “act of giving up one thing for another; something given up for the sake of another” is first recorded 1590s. Baseball sense first attested 1880. v.c.1300, “to offer something (to a deity, as a sacrifice),” from sacrifice (n.). Meaning “surrender, give up, suffer to be lost” is from 1706. Related: Sacrificed; sacrificing. Agent noun forms include sacrificer, sacrificator (both 16c., the latter from Latin); and sacrificulist (17c.).

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