verb ex·ter·mi·nate \ ik-ˈstər-mə-ˌnāt \
|Updated on: 15 Aug 2018

Definition of exterminate

exterminated; exterminating
: to get rid of completely usually by killing off
  • exterminate termites and cockroaches


play \ik-ˌstər-mə-ˈnā-shən\ noun


play \ik-ˈstər-mə-ˌnā-tər\ noun

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Examples of exterminate in a Sentence

  1. We made arrangements to have the termites exterminated.

  2. The invaders nearly exterminated the native people.

Recent Examples of exterminate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'exterminate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Originally, to exterminate something was to banish it or drive it away. And it is this meaning that can be found in the Latin origin of "exterminate." "Exterminate" comes from "exterminatus," the past participle of exterminare, meaning "to drive beyond the boundaries." The Latin word exterminare was formed from the prefix ex- ("out of" or "outside") and "terminus" ("boundary"). Not much more than a century after its introduction to English, "exterminate" came to denote destroying or utterly putting an end to something. And that's the use with which the word is usually employed today.

Origin and Etymology of exterminate

Latin exterminatus, past participle of exterminare, from ex- + terminus boundary — more at 1term

Synonym Discussion of exterminate

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

EXTERMINATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of exterminate for English Language Learners

  • : to destroy or kill (a group of animals, people, etc.) completely

EXTERMINATE Defined for Kids


verb ex·ter·mi·nate \ ik-ˈstər-mə-ˌnāt \

Definition of exterminate for Students

exterminated; exterminating
: to get rid of completely : wipe out
  • exterminate cockroaches


\-ˌstər-mə-ˈnā-shən\ noun

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fullness to the point of excess

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