Google defines 'Holocaust' as Jewish sacrificial ritual

The name for the Holocaust does indeed have connections to a historic Jewish sacrificial offering, but is now used almost universally as the name of the Nazi genocide of the Jews.

 Google's definition of 'Holocaust,' as seen on January 6, 2023. (photo credit: screenshot)
Google's definition of 'Holocaust,' as seen on January 6, 2023.
(photo credit: screenshot)

If you searched up "Holocaust meaning" on Google throughout the day Thursday or Friday, you might be surprised that the definition wasn't the Nazi-led genocide of the Jewish people during World War II, but a Jewish sacrificial offering.

The word Holocaust is given two definitions when one immediately googles it. The first is "destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war."

The second definition, marked as "historical," is "a Jewish sacrificial offering that was burned completely on an altar."

Clicking on the option to see translations and more definitions, one would see between the two definitions an addendum referring to the Holocaust as the mass murder of the Jewish people by the Nazis.

It is unclear why Google made this change.

FILE PHOTO: A Google sign is shown at one of the company's office complexes in Irvine, California, U.S., July 27, 2020. (credit: MIKE BLAKE/ REUTERS)FILE PHOTO: A Google sign is shown at one of the company's office complexes in Irvine, California, U.S., July 27, 2020. (credit: MIKE BLAKE/ REUTERS)

The origin of the word "holocaust"

The name for the Holocaust does indeed have connections to a historic Jewish sacrificial offering, a fact that caused some historians to be upset at referring to the death of Jews at the hands of the Nazis by a name meant to refer to a sacrificial offering to God. 

Others in the past have argued that the definition is fitting because it provides a uniquely Jewish connection to the intentional and methodically plotted extermination of over six million Jews by the Nazis.

Google's past Jewish definition mistakes

This isn't the first time Google has sparked some controversy with their dictionary feature, whose meanings are derived from the Oxford Dictionary.

In late December, people attempting to Google the word "Jew" were not met with the definition of someone who is a member of the Jewish people, but rather as an offensive antisemitic verb defined as "to bargain with someone in a miserly or petty way."

Later that same day, Google seemingly fixed this result, with a different definition being shown.