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 eradicate (audio) \ adjective
eradication \ i-​ˌra-​də-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce eradicate (audio) \ noun
eradicator \ i-​ˈra-​di-​ˌkā-​tər How to pronounce eradicate (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 Edward Jenner, who developed the vaccination technique ultimately used to eradicate smallpox, was once honored with a special place in London’s Trafalgar Square. Robert Hart, Forbes, "As Maine Considers A Covid Memorial, Here’s How Other Parts Of The World Are Remembering The Pandemic’s Victims," 27 Apr. 2021 In the last year, Brilliant—best known for his work in helping to eradicate smallpox—has been active in helping people understand Covid-19, as founder and CEO of Pandefense Advisory. Steven Levy, Wired, "Larry Brilliant Has a Plan to Speed Up the Pandemic’s End," 1 Apr. 2021 His family has been raising cattle in California since the 1850s and his forefathers helped eradicate the wolf from the state. Morgan Heim, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Wolf That Discovered California," 16 Mar. 2021 The students, responding to a history of police brutality, had been pushing to eradicate officers from the high-school campus. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, "At Sundance, pandemic dramas unfold on screen and off," 28 Jan. 2021 The findings represent a remarkable failure by chocolate companies to fulfill their longstanding promise to eradicate child labor from the cocoa supply chains. Washington Post, "U.S. report: Much of the world’s chocolate supply relies on more than a million child workers," 19 Oct. 2020 Health workers there were delivering the polio vaccine door-to-door, in an effort to eradicate the disease from one of its last holdouts in the world, but the governor of Kano state had decided to boycott the endeavor. Jenny Anderson, New York Times, "She Hunts Viral Rumors About Real Viruses," 13 Oct. 2020 Beijing denies these allegations and defends the camps as a means to eradicate terrorism. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, "The UK’s parliament is the latest to accuse China of genocide," 22 Apr. 2021 The property owner has given permission for agency staff to eradicate the nest and remove the tree, if necessary. NBC News, "Washington state discovers first 'murder hornet' nest in U.S.," 23 Oct. 2020

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

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Eradicate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for eradicate



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.

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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