The Latin term sacrificium (a sacrifice) derived from Latin sacrificus (performing priestly functions or sacrifices), which combined the concepts sacra (sacred things) and facere (to do or perform). The Latin word sacrificium came to apply to the Christian eucharist in particular, sometimes named a "bloodless sacrifice" to distinguish it from blood sacrifices. In individual non-Christian ethnic religions, terms translated as "sacrifice" include the Indic yajna, the Greek thusia, the Germanic blōtan, the Semitic qorban/qurban, Slavic żertwa, etc.
The term usually implies "doing without something" or "giving something up" (see also self-sacrifice). But the word sacrifice also occurs in metaphorical use to describe doing good for others or taking a short-term loss in return for a greater power gain, such as in a game of chess.
Animal sacrifice is the ritual killing of an animal as part of a religion. It is practiced by adherents of many religions as a means of appeasing a god or gods or changing the course of nature. It also served a social or economic function in those cultures where the edible portions of the animal were distributed among those attending the sacrifice for consumption. Animal sacrifice has turned up in almost all cultures, from the Hebrews to the Greeks and Romans (particularly the purifying ceremony Lustratio), Egyptians (for example in the cult of Apis) and from the Aztecs to the Yoruba. The religion of the ancient Egyptians forbid the sacrifice of animals other than sheep, bulls, calves, male calves and geese.