erad·​i·​cate i-ˈra-də-ˌkāt How to pronounce eradicate (audio)
eradicated; eradicating

transitive verb

: to do away with as completely as if by pulling up by the roots
programs to eradicate illiteracy
: to pull up by the roots
eradicable adjective
eradication noun
eradicator noun

Did you know?

The Root of Eradicate Is, Literally, Root

Given that eradicate first meant "to pull up by the roots," it's not surprising that the root of eradicate means, in fact, "root." Eradicate, which first turned up in English in the 16th century, comes from eradicatus, the past participle of the Latin verb eradicare. Eradicare, in turn, can be traced back to the Latin word radix, meaning "root" or "radish." Although eradicate began life as a word for literal uprooting, by the mid-17th century it had developed a metaphorical application to removing things the way one might yank an undesirable weed up by the roots. Other descendants of radix in English include radical and radish. Even the word root itself is related; it comes from the same ancient word that gave Latin radix.

Choose the Right Synonym for eradicate

exterminate, extirpate, eradicate, uproot mean to effect the destruction or abolition of something.

exterminate implies complete and immediate extinction by killing off all individuals.

exterminate cockroaches

extirpate implies extinction of a race, family, species, or sometimes an idea or doctrine by destruction or removal of its means of propagation.

many species have been extirpated from the area

eradicate implies the driving out or elimination of something that has established itself.

a campaign to eradicate illiteracy

uproot implies a forcible or violent removal and stresses displacement or dislodgment rather than immediate destruction.

the war uprooted thousands

Examples of eradicate in a Sentence

The disease has now been completely eradicated. His ambition is to eradicate poverty in his community.
Recent Examples on the Web This can trigger few (if any) symptoms before the viruses are eradicated from the person’s body, as the CDC explains. Korin Miller, SELF, 13 Feb. 2024 But this year, the pop dance category eradicated the strange-bedfellows phenomenon that’s plagued the dance/electronic recording category since it was introduced to the awards in 1998. Katie Bain, Billboard, 6 Feb. 2024 The ultimate mission is to someday eradicate trisomy conditions. Rick Mauch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 24 Jan. 2024 Measles was officially declared eradicated in the U.S. more than 20 years ago, but new outbreaks of the disease are popping up — and experts say declining vaccination rates are jeopardizing herd immunity and increasing the risk. Stephen Stock, Leigh Ann Winick, CBS News, 23 Jan. 2024 The destructive species has become a thorn in the side of biologists, who for years have tried and failed to eradicate the animals. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Jan. 2024 Thankfully, butter’s inherent deliciousness eradicates any concern in that area. Jocelyn Silver, Vogue, 26 Jan. 2024 But in the 20th century, European hunting all but eradicated its numbers. Melanie Stetson Freeman, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 Jan. 2024 Despite efforts to eradicate mosquitos carrying the Plasmodium falciparum parasite—the deadliest source of malaria on the African continent—and the use of protective nets and coating the walls of houses with insecticides, malaria still killed 608,000 people in 2022. David Cox, WIRED, 22 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'eradicate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin eradicatus, past participle of eradicare, from e- + radic-, radix root — more at root

First Known Use

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of eradicate was in 1532


Dictionary Entries Near eradicate

Cite this Entry

“Eradicate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


erad·​i·​cate i-ˈrad-ə-ˌkāt How to pronounce eradicate (audio)
eradicated; eradicating
: to remove by or as if by uprooting : eliminate, destroy
eradicate weeds
eradicating a disease
eradication noun

from Latin eradicatus, past participle of eradicare "to root out, pull up by the roots," from e-, ex- "out, forth" and radic-, radix "root" — related to radical, radish see Word History at radical

More from Merriam-Webster on eradicate

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