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

Definition of eradicate

transitive verb

1 : to do away with as completely as if by pulling up by the roots programs to eradicate illiteracy
2 : to pull up by the roots

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Other Words from eradicate

eradicable \ i-​ˈra-​di-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce eradicable (audio) \ adjective
eradication \ i-​ˌra-​də-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce eradication (audio) \ noun
eradicator \ i-​ˈra-​di-​ˌkā-​tər How to pronounce eradicator (audio) \ noun

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

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 is, 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.

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 Add to that the risk of another outbreak if the virus hasn't been totally eradicated in local communities. Laura He, CNN, "China is trying to revive its economy without risking more lives. The world is watching," 24 Mar. 2020 But thanks to mass immunizations, measles was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000 -- before an anti-vaccine movement rose in popularity and the disease re-emerged with numerous outbreaks, scientists say. oregonlive, "How contagious is the new coronavirus? Can you catch it twice?," 13 Mar. 2020 The Black Death that eradicated much of Europe in the 14th century. Washington Post, "Stress, rumors, even violence: Virus fear goes viral," 21 Feb. 2020 Lifestyle Australia reports that other members found the solution successfully eradicated ants in their home. Isabel Garcia, House Beautiful, "Get Rid of Ants With This Simple Home Solution," 7 Feb. 2020 In 2018, Fox News featured a commentator who claimed that Central American migrants would contaminate the country with smallpox and leprosy, an especially ludicrous claim, given that smallpox was eradicated in 1980. Time, "The Pandemic of Xenophobia and Scapegoating," 3 Feb. 2020 Though the measles was considered eradicated in 2000 with the advent of the measles vaccine, the U.S. was at risk of losing that status. Claudia Harmata,, "New Jersey Lawmakers to Vote on Bill That Would Repeal Religious Exemptions for Vaccines," 13 Jan. 2020 Wild poliovirus type 2 was declared globally eradicated in 2015. Jim Gomez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Philippines declares new polio outbreak after 19 years," 19 Sep. 2019 Though the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated in 1980, two facilities—Vector and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia—still contain samples of the virus. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Russian Facility That Houses Smallpox Virus Rocked by Explosion," 17 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eradicate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of eradicate

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for eradicate

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

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Time Traveler for eradicate

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The first known use of eradicate was in 1532

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Last Updated

30 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Eradicate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for eradicate


How to pronounce eradicate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of eradicate

formal : to remove (something) completely : to eliminate or destroy (something harmful)


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

Kids Definition of eradicate

: to destroy completely The disease has been eradicated.

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