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

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Other Words from exterminate

extermination \ ik-​ˌstər-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce extermination (audio) \ noun
exterminator \ ik-​ˈstər-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce exterminator (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 Therefore, the company decided to exterminate a few hundred bees that were clumped around a microphone by the dugout. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Padres face backlash for exterminating bee swarm during Sunday’s game," 3 June 2019 At the start people believed this was a new strategy to exterminate them. Max Bearak, Washington Post, "Ebola has spread for nearly a year in Congo. Officials are scrambling to ‘reset’ the response.," 20 June 2019 Millions of civilians left behind in the occupied Soviet territories were exterminated by the Nazis; among them were 2.5 million Jews. Sean Williams, Harper's magazine, "Letters," 19 Aug. 2019 But after a set of recent memos and court filings from the National Labor Relations Board, some are worried that Scabby (and the rest of his anthropomorphic balloon menagerie) could soon be exterminated. Michael Gold, New York Times, "Scabby, the Giant Inflatable Union Protest Rat, Faces Extermination," 31 July 2019 Anyone who offends China, no matter how remote, must be exterminated. Helen Raleigh, National Review, "Wolf Warrior II Tells Us a Lot about China," 20 July 2019 More Mexican wolves are in the wild now than at any time since they were nearly exterminated decades ago. Washington Post, "Pup fostering gives genetic boost to wild Mexican wolves," 18 June 2019 The department also did not have a program to exterminate and control rats, fleas, roaches, gnats, mosquitoes or grasshoppers in the building. Mark Puente, latimes.com, "Following rat infestation, LAPD deploys robot to sanitize Central Division station," 28 June 2019 That has led to cottage industries of groups that exterminate the animals in all kinds of ways — including with firearms, though the hogs’ thick hides can help shield them from rounds fired from AR-15-style rifles. Alex Horton, Twin Cities, "Alex Horton: Think 30-50 feral hogs is a joke? Millions are rampaging across the country.," 8 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for exterminate

Last Updated

10 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for exterminate

The first known use of exterminate was in 1591

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More Definitions for exterminate


How to pronounce exterminate (audio)

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 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

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