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 During the pandemic's early days, Limbaugh told his listeners Trump was the right person for the job of eradicating the virus from the American populace while the country's economy afloat. Dominick Mastrangelo, Washington Examiner, "'Scare tactic': Limbaugh says the media is using their climate change playbook on coronavirus reporting," 15 May 2020 As the species is spread across more than a thousand square miles of Southern Florida, the United States Geological Survey says the odds of completely eradicating the species is low. Fox News, "5 of the most destructive invasive species in the US," 12 May 2020 The lack of a unified approach in addressing the pandemic may cause problems in eradicating the virus -- even with a vaccine, Garrett said. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "Life will never be the same after the pandemic passes, says public health journalist," 8 May 2020 While the foundation’s scope is broad — from eradicating polio to boosting college completion rates — Gates is now spending the predominant amount of his time on the pandemic, Suzman said. Washington Post, "The billionaire who cried pandemic," 2 May 2020 The time has come to double down on eradicating the barriers to reflective and inclusive democracy. Julie Kohler,, "Where Is America’s Jacinda Ardern? She’s Hiding In Plain Sight.," 24 Apr. 2020 Well’s Sheila Hamilton talks about the human, social, political and economic relationships involved in eradicating disease. oregonlive, "Sheila Hamilton: Jonas Salk’s son urges widespread coronavirus screening," 22 Apr. 2020 Given that situation, there is little hope of eradicating this novel coronavirus. Jeffery Delviscio, Scientific American, "Larry Brilliant Helped to Eradicate Smallpox—and He Has Advice for COVID-19," 20 Mar. 2020 All proceeds go to the Rotary’s Charitable Fund, which supports causes such as eradicating polio and international clean water projects. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The 14th edition of the Oconomowoc Wine & Brewfest will be held in March," 26 Feb. 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.

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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

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Eradicate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 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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