ex·​tinc·​tion | \ ik-ˈstiŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce extinction (audio) \

Definition of extinction

1 : the act of making extinct or causing to be extinguished
2 : the condition or fact of being extinct or extinguished also : the process of becoming extinct extinction of a species
3 : the process of eliminating or reducing a conditioned response by not reinforcing it

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Examples of extinction in a Sentence

the extinction of all life in the region the extinction of many old traditions Mass extinctions of prehistoric animals are known to have occurred.
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Recent Examples on the Web Once the largest salmon producer in the Columbia River Basin, today Snake River salmon runs are at the brink of extinction. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "The Snake River in the Pacific Northwest is the nation's 'most endangered river' of 2021," 13 Apr. 2021 The population was saved from the brink of extinction in the 1960s when numbers dipped below 100. Krishna Pokharel, WSJ, "How Do You Count Wild Rhinos? Very Carefully. (And With Elephants)," 9 Apr. 2021 Seed collecting is a profession on the verge of extinction. Jesse Klein, Wired, "Reforestation Is Great! But We're Running Out of Seeds," 6 Apr. 2021 The threat of extinction has diminished the odds of spotting one of these wood-dwelling elephants, said a new IUCN Red List assessment of African elephants. Elizabeth Preston New York Times, Star Tribune, "Some elephants in Africa are just a step from extinction," 1 Apr. 2021 Naturalist David Attenborough explores the topic of extinction and how this crisis has consequences for us all. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "What’s on TV Wednesday: ‘Marrying Millions’ on Lifetime," 30 Mar. 2021 But there’s nothing quite as enticing, or deeply gratifying, as a chocolate egg rescued from the brink of extinction. Beth Segal, cleveland, "This year, Easter joy is a basket fill with old-fashioned treats, anchored by Cleveland’s classic Baker’s Chocolate Whip," 25 Mar. 2021 A million of the 8 million species alive today are in danger of extinction. BostonGlobe.com, "Species threatened, corporations ascendant, death discussed," 25 Mar. 2021 Populations of American bald eagles, once on the brink of extinction, have pleasantly surprised experts — quadrupling in size since 2009. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Once nearly extinct, American bald eagle populations have quadrupled in last decade," 24 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extinction.' 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 extinction

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for extinction

Time Traveler

The first known use of extinction was in the 15th century

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Statistics for extinction

Last Updated

18 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Extinction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extinction. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for extinction



English Language Learners Definition of extinction

: the state or situation that results when something (such as a plant or animal species) has died out completely


ex·​tinc·​tion | \ ik-ˈstiŋk-shən How to pronounce extinction (audio) \

Kids Definition of extinction

: the state of being, becoming, or making extinct


ex·​tinc·​tion | \ ik-ˈstiŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce extinction (audio) \

Medical Definition of extinction

1 : the process of becoming extinct the extinction of a species also : the condition or fact of being extinct
2 : the process of eliminating or reducing a conditioned response by not reinforcing it

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