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 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 The school district is planning to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services Department, which will have a wildlife specialist exterminate the rockchucks by fumigating their burrows. oregonlive, "Super-large squirrels, also known as marmots or rockchucks, emerge from hibernation to pester Oregon school," 15 Apr. 2021 That appears to what happened last year when DNS ordered Pejoves' Milwaukee Capital Properties to exterminate the rats in a rental house on West Chambers Street. Cary Spivak, jsonline.com, "Out-of-state corporate landlords are gobbling up Milwaukee homes to rent out, and it's changing the fabric of some neighborhoods," 15 Apr. 2021 To exterminate wasps and hornets, instead of using pesticides, professionals can knock many types of nests to the ground and crush them. Washington Post, "Many companies advertise ‘green’ pest control. But is it possible? And does it work?," 8 Apr. 2021 Or, another gem, evacuate an enormous area of land and use airplanes to spray mustard gas (the gas widely used in World War I) to exterminate the animal population, which was responsible for the dispersal of prickly pear seeds. Longreads, "Why Bumblebees Love Cats and Other Beautiful Relationships," 23 Mar. 2021 It has never been conclusively determined which faction carried out the assassination, but the attack set in motion a plot to exterminate the Tutsi. New York Times, "He Was the Hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda.’ Now He’s Accused of Terrorism.," 2 Mar. 2021 In San Diego the City Board of Health began campaign to exterminate rats and other small rodents in an effort to keep the city free of the epidemic and discussed more stringent measures. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: In 1924 people were dying of plague in Los Angeles," 1 Nov. 2020 Furthermore, multiple incidents of mass bird deaths, such as in London, suggest the product is often used to exterminate rather than repel birds. Rachel Fobar, National Geographic, "This bird pesticide is legal, but recent deaths are stoking controversy," 21 Oct. 2020 Even relatively low-impact grazing has historically led ranchers to exterminate other animal species, including wolves. Jan Dutkiewicz, The New Republic, "The Climate Activists Who Dismiss Meat Consumption Are Wrong," 31 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for exterminate

Time Traveler

The first known use of exterminate was in 1591

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Last Updated

25 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Exterminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exterminate. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for exterminate



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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