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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Nguyen started IDLogiq to help medical patients manage and verify medications in efforts to eradicate the counterfeit drug market. Julia Gall, Marie Claire, "Cartier Women's Initiative Announces Its 2020 Finalists," 31 Mar. 2020 Hosting Global Goal Live: The Possible Dream in September reflects The Emirates’ humanitarian efforts to eradicate worldwide poverty. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Global Citizen Adds Dubai as Seventh Venue for Massive 'Global Goal Live: The Possible Dream' Event," 21 Jan. 2020 Some vaccination campaigns are met with suspicion, hampering efforts to eradicate polio, for example. Elizabeth Cooney, STAT, "Experimental vaccine patch embeds invisible dots under the skin, leaving record of immunization," 18 Dec. 2019 This led to a targeted effort to eradicate the sharks in the Pacific. Kirsi Goldynia, CNN, "A bizarre-looking shark resurfaced on camera after an extraordinary trans-Atlantic adventure," 18 Nov. 2019 The Center for Evidence-Based Policy has advised Washington state in the effort to eradicate hep C, Curtis said. Scientific American, "Pharma Sells States on “Netflix Model” to Wipe Out Hep C," 31 Oct. 2019 But indigenous people in Mexico, as across the Americas, resisted Spanish efforts to eradicate their culture. Kirby Farah, The Conversation, "Day of the Dead: From Aztec goddess worship to modern Mexican celebration," 28 Oct. 2019 Now with $10 million in state funding, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is preparing to deploy new tactics in its efforts to eradicate nutria and prevent environmental destruction. San Diego Union-Tribune, "California ramps up efforts to combat invasive swamp rodents," 24 Sep. 2019 Hopefully by eradicating the swimsuit round, people who saw that part of the competition as a challenge or an impediment can now take a second look and reconsider their position. Kira Kazantsev, Time, "'After #MeToo, Miss America Had to Change': A Former Winner on Saying Goodbye to the Swimsuit Competition," 6 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about eradicate

Time Traveler for eradicate

Time Traveler

The first known use of eradicate was in 1532

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about eradicate

Statistics for eradicate

Last Updated

11 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Eradicate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on eradicate

What made you want to look up eradicate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!