According to an article in the Huffington Post, the word ‘booty’ today has sexual connotations (as in ‘booty call’) and has thus been changed in the bible to ‘spoils of war,’ which was its original meaning.
The Post explains: “The word ‘holocaust,’ which for most people refers to the World War II genocide of Jews, was changed to ‘burned offerings,’ which clarifies the original, positive idea of making offerings to God.”
There are many words whose meanings change over time, and booty and holocaust are just two recent examples. Holocaust, however, is one of those words that seems like it can never go back to beginning with a lower case ‘h’. Over the past 60 or so years it’s gone from noun to proper noun and it’s difficult to imagine it otherwise.
An article on JewishMag.com says, “The word holocaust was not created to specifically describe the death of Jews in World War II, but within forty years of that event taking place, the word holocaust has become synonymous with the evil deeds of the Nazis . . . Because our society has molded such a horrific event with the word holocaust, we are now compelled to react strongly to said word. We would not react at all to that same word if it did not have these implications and meanings.”
The word holocaust comes from the Greek holocaustros, which means ‘burnt whole’.
Here’s the definition as it appears in Webster’s:
1: a sacrifice consumed by fire
2: a thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life especially through fire <a nuclear holocaust>
3a often capitalized: the mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II — usually used with the
b: a mass slaughter of people; especially : GENOCIDE
For those of you who dig root words, it comes from Late Latin holocaustum and the Greek word holokauston. It’s first known use is from the 13th century.