I'm looking for a word that conveys the idea of the utter and sudden end of all life in a large region (e.g. a city).

I'm thinking of an event in which all living things in that region suddenly die at the same time while inanimate objects remain intact.

Preferably, I'd like a word that means specifically that; words like "cataclysm" are too general.

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    Surely this is wild fantasy, unless you use a tailored definition of 'life'. Cockroaches survive nuclear fallout, don't they? Bacteria .... – Edwin Ashworth Sep 2 '17 at 16:20
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    The 'neutron bomb' is not a fantasy, and 'alive' is not a binary option if you look closely. – AmI Sep 2 '17 at 16:25

Something ending in -cide. Ecocide is an approximation but it's caused by human agency. Biocide designates a chemical agent not a result of its usage. So, resorting to a neologism seems to be the only option—my suggestion is holocide reminiscing Holocaust but having much more general meaning.

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  • Morphologically, this would mean "the killing of everything", not just "life", no? But then, I suppose you can't kill something if it isn't alive to begin with (at least not non-metaphorically; people talk of "character assassination" and "killing one's career", e.g.). – Dan Bron Sep 2 '17 at 17:49
  • That's the point—you kill the animate, but you break the inanimate. – Michael Login Sep 2 '17 at 17:59
  • I like this option. "Ecocide" sounds a little more modern than "holocide", probably on account of the obvious reference to ecology, a fairly modern concept. "Holocide" is not in any dictionary I currently have access to (edit: just reread your answer and noticed you said a neologism was the only option, so never mind the dictionary bit), but with a little clarification for the reader's sake it does the job. Thanks! – Rain Sep 2 '17 at 18:19
  • Why does this answer have a negative vote? It is so far the only satisfactory answer and is properly justified. – Rain Sep 2 '17 at 22:16

Biocide has another sense as well.

(mass noun) 2. The destruction of life.

Our whims have brought us to the brink of biocide.
Biocide is the ultimate of all human moral violations because it is the destruction of all life on Earth.
Oxford Living Dictionaries

(noun) 1. Any action or substance that can destroy living organisms.

The sense I mention here hasn't been used a lot, so not many dictionaries consider it worth defining this way.

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  • This is true. However, it is essentially contained in Mv Log's answer. Thanks, though. – Rain Sep 2 '17 at 22:15
  • @Rain it's "contained" in the other answer but not suggested as a valid answer. Hence my note "it has another sense" – NVZ Sep 3 '17 at 2:07
  • @NVZ With all due respect, ODO seems to be the only dictionary citing this meaning. I've got about 20 dictionaries and none of them mentions that. Dictionary.com cites it as the etymology of the main meaning. – Michael Login Sep 3 '17 at 6:26
  • @MvLog It's not got enough usage history to enter all dictionaries. Only the recent and frequently updated ones have it. ODO and Wiktionary are such examples. They add definitions for fairly new or obscure words. – NVZ Sep 3 '17 at 6:31
  • "The world is about overpopulation, Imperial invasions, Biocide, Genocide, Fratricidal ..."; "Are biocide, genocide, and slavery simply to be forgotten when the generation of active perpetrators ..."; "It is essential to admit that what is occurring is nothing less than biocide, genocide, and eco- cide. " Google! – Kris Sep 3 '17 at 6:50

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