Word of the day: hecatomb

Say what you like about British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – and I’ve said a lot that is not complimentary – but his Oxford University education has given him an impressive vocabulary.

In an interview this week about shortages in the British marketplace, he commented: “If I may say so, the great hecatomb of pigs that you describe has not yet actually taken place. Let’s see what happens.” This is the Prime Minister, playing down fears of a mass culls of pigs at farms because of a lack of abattoir workers and doing so with a word not on the lips of every member of the electorate.

In ancient Greece or Rome, the term hecatomb referred to any great public sacrifice and feast, originally one in which 100 oxen were sacrificed.


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