ex·ter·mi·nate | \ik-ˈstər-mə-ˌnāt \
exterminated; exterminating

Definition of exterminate 

transitive verb

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

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Other Words from exterminate

extermination \ik-ˌstər-mə-ˈnā-shən \ noun
exterminator \ik-ˈstər-mə-ˌnā-tər \ 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

Essentially, the victorious clans would exterminate their opponent’s menfolk to ensure ongoing dominance and the eradication of potential competition. Jamie Seidel, Fox News, "When men almost became extinct," 31 May 2018 There is no tried and true method for exterminating ticks as there is for mosquitoes, according to Mr. Backenson. Lara Korte, WSJ, "Long Islanders Take Shelter From Tick Threat This Summer," 1 July 2018 Another floor will give visitors a sense of the Nazi concentration camps where millions of Jews and others were exterminated in the Holocaust, while a third floor will exhibit the sights and sounds of Jerusalem. Washington Post, "Jewish museum in Cyprus aims to build bridges to Arab world," 6 June 2018 Another floor will give visitors a sense of the Nazi concentration camps where millions of Jews and others were exterminated in the Holocaust, while a third floor will exhibit the sights and sounds of Jerusalem. Menelaos Hadjicostis, Fox News, "Jewish museum in Cyprus aims to build bridges to Arab world," 7 June 2018 Leopards, a particular threat to baboons, were thought to have been exterminated in Gorongosa. Christopher Torchia, Fox News, "African wild dogs make comeback at Mozambican wildlife park," 22 June 2018 The displays are frightening and never fail to prompt demands from the public for authorities to remove or exterminate the yipping canines. Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, "Coyote alert: SF is home to seven new pups in the Presidio," 4 June 2018 Last year, the Chagos Conservation Trust announced that rats had been exterminated from Ile Vache Marine, an important bird habitat. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Coral Reefs Need Fewer Rats and More Bird Poo," 12 July 2018 After the deer were exterminated at the Iowa County facility, 21 of 79 (26%) of the animals tested were found to be CWD-positive (24 were not tested due to their young age). Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "CWD-positive deer found at Marinette County breeding facility," 23 June 2018

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.

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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

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for exterminate

The first known use of exterminate was in 1591

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English Language Learners Definition of exterminate

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


ex·ter·mi·nate | \ik-ˈstər-mə-ˌnāt \
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

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