Are "murder" and "homicide" synonyms?

Continuing the discussion from ISIS is Daesh–not the African-Kemetic (Egyptian) goddess Isis:

I’m splitting this off into its own discussion, because, while “should we call Daesh ‘terrorists’ or ‘murderers’” is relevant, “how close do the meanings of two words have to be to become ‘synonyms’” is not.

In my opinion, being synonymous is contextual. That is, if two words are interchangeable in a given context, they are synonymous in that context, but not necessarily synonymous in any other context. For instance, “terrified” vs. “horrified” vs. “disgusted:”

In the following two sentences, “terrified” and “horrified” would be synonymous, but “disgusted” would not be:
“The student backed away, terrified, from the man advancing on her with a knife.”
“The student backed away, horrified, from the man advancing on her with a knife.”

In the following two sentences, “horrified” and “disgusted” would be synonymous, but “terrified” would not be:
“The student looked down, horrified, at the fluffy animal he was being asked to dissect.”
“The student looked down, disgusted, at the fluffy animal he was being asked to dissect.”

To bring this back to “homicide” and “murder,” I think, in certain contexts, they can be synonymous. However, the latter implies intent but the former does not; in most circumstances, I would not consider the two synonymous, regardless of whether a dictionary or thesaurus listed them as such.

1 Like

Only after the supreme court has quashed all potential appeals to a conviction of such.

*reads thread…

Oh I see I’m not being nearly pedantic enough.

*off in a huff


I tried to make a larger point and failed spectacularly. And it has nothing to do with if I am write or wrong.


Both are generally intentional killing with exceptions (e.g. felony murder or negligent homicide). So yes, synonyms.

If murder is a more specific kind of homicide, then murder is the hyponym and homicide is the hypernym.


They’re not synonymous.

Murder is a legal term that broadly encompasses the intentional killing of an individual.

Homicide would seem to me to be a more precise term indicating precision of extinction of life - homicide being the extinction of a human life. The term has broadened in usage, particularly in North America (I’m counting Canada but don’t actually know), to mean murder - it sounds more special on the radio / TV - it seems more precise and clean, than simple bludgeoning “murder” - which I feel better encompasses the rotten nature of the darker side of humanity.

I’d say then that Murder is rather Englishe - it brings up Shakespearean imaginings of cudgels and dark alleys; blunt knives and lily-white throats - for me, it carries the true nature of murderous intent. Homicide is quite clinical and clean.

Even saying the words out loud - murder is gutteral, comes from low in the throat [sic … whatevs]; homicide is cleaner, finer-tuned and more precise. Murder … common word between the Nordic / Germanic and Romance languages - “Mord”, “meutre”. Play with Google translate (as I have just done) - and murder, around the world, is pronounced with these deep-throated sounds - reflecting the dread and immensity of the intentional taking of human life,

Maybe in law enforcement it’s important to say ‘homicide’ to abstract the prosecution machine from bias that impinges on the presumption of innocence. ‘Murder’ has me thinking in drains and ditches, too easy to associate nasty faces with rotten behaviours.

Mind you - as we see so often in the USA - maybe it’s easier for police to kill someone with only the anxiety of ‘homicide’ accusations being made - it’s abstracted from the blood and guts. Maybe that’s the whole training error. Holding a gun at someone and thinking ‘if I call this wrong, it’s murder’ - maybe that’d interfere more - it carries social stigma, neighbours slinking away, children being hidden from the monstrous murderer.

Guilty of homicide? Quite technical, now I think about it. Doesn’t sound as bad as “murderer”.

So an occupation soldier intentionally and illegitimately killing someone in an internment camp would be said to “murder” them, especially if the reporting media is not in favour of the soldier’s country / organisation. An American soldier in Japan killing a Japanese citizen would likely be reported as charged with culpable homicide.

viz Fratricide, Regicide, Patricide, Matricide.

I haven’t seen the -cide be used with non-human life. I’m pretty sure a dog can be “murdered”, but know not of the term “caninicide”.


Herbicide and insecticide?


Good point. Was a bit focused I suppose!

Maybe they should be labelled “plant murderer” and “bug murderer”.

Necessary and relevant to the discussion:


I formally apologize for creating the need for this discussion :smile:


I have emotional baggage. My father is a manslaughterer, a friend of mine is a first degree murderer. The house I live in is the scene of a murder suicide. And I’ve known too many suicidal people.

Homicide and murder are not. The fucking. Same. Thing.


I believe all murder is criminal in nature, whereas “homicide” also encompasses things like killing in self defense, legal execution, etc.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 434 days. New replies are no longer allowed.