ex·​tinc·​tion | \ik-ˈstiŋ(k)-shən \

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

That may eventually help fill in another piece in the puzzle of Neanderthal extinction. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Neanderthal teeth reveal lead exposure and difficult winters," 31 Oct. 2018 Now, a new study suggests that climate change was a bigger part in their extinction than previously believed. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, "Climate change killed off Neanderthals, study says," 30 Aug. 2018 Many scientists believe the planet is experiencing its sixth mass extinction in the past half-billion years, the first since the dinosaurs were lost 65 million years ago. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's most endangered species nears extinction in Oakland County," 13 July 2018 Thanks to humans, our planet is facing its sixth great extinction. Ralph Steadman, Discover Magazine, "Where the Wild Things Aren't," 1 Mar. 2018 Related stories from Charlotte Observer They've been hunted to near-extinction. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "She survived Castro, a crash and a burning ship. Now Shirley the elephant is turning 70," 5 July 2018 In 2012, the beleaguered BCS had been pushed to the brink of extinction by a controversial LSU-Alabama rematch in the previous title game. Joan Niesen, SI.com, "The Computer Poll Uprising: Creators of the BCS's Most Controversial Component Look Back," 11 July 2018 No marine mammal faces such an immediate threat of extinction. Louis Sahagun, latimes.com, "To save the world's rarest marine mammal, conservationists seek ban on Mexican seafood imports," 11 July 2018 Wired headphones are under no immediate threat of extinction, but the future of personal audio will be defined and dominated by their wireless peers, that’s already clear. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Wired headphones are becoming the mechanical watches of personal audio," 7 July 2018

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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Last Updated

24 Nov 2018

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

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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 \

Kids Definition of extinction

: the state of being, becoming, or making extinct


ex·​tinc·​tion | \ik-ˈstiŋ(k)-shən \

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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