Can a person be a genocide?

I can’t help but comment on this very strange usage (from a comment at Dispatches):

So, were [sic] having a discussion about the applicability of a book written by middle-eastern [sic] goat herders (who were also genocides), added to by bipolar preachers and opportunists, edited and translated by politicians, and interpreted by more politicians, scam-artists and cult leaders.

Yeah, I can [sic] were [sic] all going to learn something valuable and useful from this. (emphasis mine)

I was very puzzled by this usage, since genocide is so very rarely used to describe people – it is almost solely used to describe events or even extended campaigns (like the Holocaust, which is the backdrop for the word’s coining by Raphael Lemkin, a Pole, in 1944). What is still stranger is that this usage is meant to describe the perpetrators of genocide as opposed to the victims.

I am somewhat comforted in observing that this usage is not widely recognized; the OED only mentions it in the context of a thing or event.

One appropriate Google hit came up in the first few tries:

  • Besides, would anybody blame the US troops of genocide for bringing this disease to Europe, then why are there people saying Spanish conquistadores were genocides when it is proved that most of the indians who died after the Spanish arrival in the new world were because of illnesses that did not exist in America? (source)

Strangely, suicide – a word with a similar structure – does in fact have this sort of usage:

One who dies by his own hand; one who commits self-murder. Also, one who attempts or has a tendency to commit suicide.

1732 Lond. Mag. I. 252 The Suicide owns himself..unequal to the Troubles of Life.
1769 BLACKSTONE Comm. IV. xiv. 189 The suicide is guilty of a double offence: one spiritual, in invading the prerogative of the Almighty..: the other temporal, against the king.
1838 W. BELL Dict. Law Scot. 953 The wounds inflicted by a suicide upon himself are usually in the front, and in an oblique direction.
1861 F. NIGHTINGALE Nursing (ed. 2) 77 A fourth [patient], who is a depressed suicide, requires a little cheering.
1870 R. C. JEBB Sophocles’ Electra (ed. 2) 47/1 Suicides used to be interred with a stake through the body, ‘to lay the ghost’.

So I suppose it’s not unthinkable that the perpetrator of genocide might be called a genocide, but the usage is still rather odd.

Has anyone else noticed this usage? I find it curious and would like to see if it is more common than my search has indicated.


2 Responses to Can a person be a genocide?

  1. Kristina says:

    I’ve never seen it used that way until now. It does seem strange.

  2. asdf says:

    maybe that retarded commenter meant ‘gentile’

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