ex·​ter·​mi·​nate | \ ik-ˈstər-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce exterminate (audio) \
exterminated; exterminating

Definition of exterminate

transitive verb

: to get rid of completely usually by killing off exterminate termites and cockroaches

Other Words from exterminate

extermination \ ik-​ˌstər-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce exterminate (audio) \ noun
exterminator \ ik-​ˈstər-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce exterminate (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of exterminate in a Sentence

We made arrangements to have the termites exterminated. The invaders nearly exterminated the native people.
Recent Examples on the Web Removing the name of a man who tried to exterminate the Lakota and replacing it with the name of Black Elk on the Lakota’s sacred mountain is a step toward reconciliation and restorative justice. Bonnie Mcgill, Scientific American, 22 Apr. 2022 The two disagree over politics — Grindelwald wants to exterminate all Muggles, while Dumbledore decidedly opposes that plan — and Grindelwald asks his former friend why he's changed his mind. Devan Coggan, EW.com, 16 Apr. 2022 In the spring of 1958, the Chinese government mobilized the entire nation to exterminate sparrows, which Mao declared pests that destroyed crops. New York Times, 13 Apr. 2022 Opponents of the legislation framed it as a chilling mandate to exterminate ninety per cent of the state’s fifteen hundred or so wolves. Paige Williams, The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2022 In this story, the 2014 revolution in Ukraine was carried out by Nazis who want to exterminate the country’s Russian-speaking population, beginning with the eastern region of the Donbass. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2022 The campaign to exterminate an entire people during the Holocaust was a particularly horrible episode in human history. chicagotribune.com, 22 Feb. 2022 Haman then planned to exterminate all the Jews in Persia. CNN, 20 Feb. 2022 Some Russian nationalists returned the charge, accusing those new governments of plotting to marginalize or even exterminate the Russian minorities within their borders. New York Times, 19 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of exterminate

1591, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for exterminate

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

Learn More About exterminate

Time Traveler for exterminate

Time Traveler

The first known use of exterminate was in 1591

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About exterminate

Dictionary Entries Near exterminate

exterior slope



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for exterminate

Last Updated

25 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Exterminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exterminate. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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

More Definitions for exterminate


ex·​ter·​mi·​nate | \ ik-ˈstər-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce exterminate (audio) \
exterminated; exterminating

Kids Definition of exterminate

: to get rid of completely : wipe out exterminate cockroaches

Other Words from exterminate

extermination \ -​ˌstər-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on exterminate

Nglish: Translation of exterminate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of exterminate for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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