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 Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator, has said repeatedly that the union’s goal was never to eradicate AI. Gene Maddaus, Variety, 29 Nov. 2023 Today, childhood polio has been all but eradicated. Sonja Sharp, Los Angeles Times, 27 Nov. 2023 Those causes included building houses for the poor and eradicating disease in some of the world’s most impoverished countries. Danielle Paquette, Washington Post, 27 Nov. 2023 The writer had been imprisoned for socialist thinking by a branch of the Tokyo police tasked with eradicating anti-authoritarian thought in music, literature and art. Alissa Wilkinson, New York Times, 21 Nov. 2023 The invasion’s immediate goal was to eradicate the Palestinian Liberation Organization, its guerrilla factions (among them Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), and other Palestinian militant groups. Sarah E. Parkinson, Foreign Affairs, 14 Nov. 2023 Israel has said the aim of its bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip is to eradicate Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that rules the Palestinian enclave. WSJ, 4 Nov. 2023 In 2020, the World Economic Forum estimated that AI would eradicate 85 million jobs around the world by 2025 but create 97 million new ones. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 12 Nov. 2023 Mongolia had come as close as any society to having eradicated a religious way of life, with deep roots in the social fabric, yet here, too, as so often on this pilgrimage of mine, the sacred had triumphed in the end. Aatish Taseer, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 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 6 Dec. 2023.

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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