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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Nearly 60 years ago, the California brown pelican was on the brink of extinction. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 19 May 2022 In the days of cable TV, melancholy commercials pleading for donations to help save big animals on the brink of extinction – such as elephants, polar bears, gorillas, and pandas – landed on screens across the United States. Camille Fine, USA TODAY, 18 May 2022 Today, at least 10,967 species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species are affected by climate change, increasing their likelihood of extinction. Wendy Gonzalez, Forbes, 17 May 2022 According to the anti-hate group ADL, proponents of the replacement conspiracy theory, which has been adopted by white supremacists, claim that the white race is at risk of extinction due to immigration. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, 15 May 2022 In a time when the office is on the verge of extinction, there is a possibility for greater innovation. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 12 May 2022 Emperor penguins are at risk of extinction, according to conservationists and researchers. Julia Musto, Fox News, 7 May 2022 With such a small population left, researchers focused on conservation efforts have questioned if vaquitas were at a greater risk of extinction due to inbreeding. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 7 May 2022 After being pushed to the brink of extinction, California condors have returned to a slice of Northern California habitat for the first time in 130 years. Los Angeles Times, 7 May 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of extinction

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About extinction

Time Traveler for extinction

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near extinction



extinction angle

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for extinction

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Extinction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extinction. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for extinction


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

More from Merriam-Webster on extinction

Nglish: Translation of extinction for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of extinction for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about extinction


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!