ex·​punge | \ ik-ˈspənj How to pronounce expunge (audio) \
expunged; expunging

Definition of expunge

transitive verb

1 : to strike out, obliterate, or mark for deletion
2 : to efface completely : destroy
3 : to eliminate from one's consciousness expunge a memory

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Other Words from expunge

expunger noun

Did You Know?

In medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, a series of dots was used to mark mistakes or to label material that should be deleted from a text, and those deletion dots can help you remember the history of "expunge." They were known as "puncta delentia." The "puncta" part of the name derives from the Latin verb pungere, which can be translated as "to prick or sting" (and you can imagine that a scribe may have felt stung when his mistakes were so punctuated in a manuscript). "Pungere" is also an ancestor of "expunge," as well as a parent of other dotted, pointed, or stinging terms such as "punctuate," "compunction," "poignant," "puncture," and "pungent."

Examples of expunge in a Sentence

time and the weather have expunged any evidence that a thriving community once existed here

Recent Examples on the Web

For the misdemeanor charge, Wang was ordered to complete 50 hours of community service; the case was expunged later. Thy Vo, The Mercury News, "Cupertino planning commissioner called out for alleged pattern of harassment," 11 Aug. 2019 Last year, acknowledging the poor racial record of longtime owner Thomas A. Yawkey, the team expunged his name from the street outside the ballpark. Washington Post, "Pumpsie Green, first black player on Red Sox, dies at 85," 18 July 2019 Yet the popular image, left by Cato, was never expunged. Tim Bouverie, WSJ, "Five Best: Tim Bouverie on the British Appeasement of Adolf Hitler," 28 June 2019 Records often are expunged after a wrongful arrest or after a charge is proven false. Brian Chasnoff, ExpressNews.com, "Annalisa Brockhouse says she called police on her husband in 2009 even though he never harmed her," 19 June 2019 For possession charges of 30 to 500 grams of marijuana, the person can petition a court to expunge their record, but prosecutors can object. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan could face competition after Illinois legislature approves recreational pot," 18 June 2019 Under the measure, prior and pending convictions would be expunged and marijuana law would be left entirely to the states. Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times, "Joe Biden announces criminal justice policy, addressing a potential weakness," 23 July 2019 Booker's legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act, would also expunge federal convictions and allow those who have been prosecuted to petition for shorter sentences. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "Kamala Harris once opposed legalizing marijuana. Now she wants to decriminalize it," 23 July 2019 Herring wants to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, pardon and expunge past convictions for marijuana possession and establish a framework to guide recreational use and sales of marijuana in the state. Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, "Marijuana arrests in Va. reach highest level in at least 20 years, spurring calls for reform," 19 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'expunge.' 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 expunge

1602, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for expunge

Latin expungere to mark for deletion by dots, from ex- + pungere to prick — more at pungent

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Statistics for expunge

Last Updated

16 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for expunge

The first known use of expunge was in 1602

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More Definitions for expunge



English Language Learners Definition of expunge

formal : to remove (something) completely


transitive verb
ex·​punge | \ ik-ˈspənj How to pronounce expunge (audio) \
expunged; expunging

Legal Definition of expunge

: to cancel out or destroy completely expunge the court records of an acquitted defendant

Other Words from expunge

expungement noun

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Comments on expunge

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


to shake or wave menacingly

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