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 This extinction engine does not sentimentalize or aestheticize the materials of the world. Anne Boyer, Harper's Magazine, "Actuary of the Apocalypse," 27 Apr. 2021 Wrestlers, also slated for extinction, came to the aquatic center holding up a banner condemning Muir. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, "Stanford students turn to protests, graffiti to preserve 11 sports targeted for cuts," 26 Apr. 2021 More collisions could elevate tigers’ extinction risk. Neil Carter, The Conversation, "GPS tracking could help tigers and traffic coexist in Asia," 23 Apr. 2021 Ancient people likely helped drive to extinction megafauna like mammoths and flightless Pacific island birds, for example. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Just 19% of Earth’s land is still ‘wild,’ analysis suggests," 19 Apr. 2021 Before his arrest, the crime boss Dmitri (The Exfoliator) Kahn flushed his beloved whooper swans down the toilet, sending them underground into New York City’s sewer system, and saving them from certain extinction. Dahlia Gallin Ramirez, The New Yorker, "Cocaine Hippos and Mafia Parrots: How Drug Lords Saved the Planet," 18 Apr. 2021 Both films are pleas to take nature seriously from the perspective of a world on the precipice of its own extinction. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, "‘Gunda’: An Intimate Portrait of a Sow’s Life," 17 Apr. 2021 Choose to exchange, evolve and avoid extinction because success awaits those who shift their mindset and choose not to leave change to chance. Sid Mohasseb, Forbes, "The Fundamental Four Business 'Mindsets' For The Next Decade," 16 Apr. 2021 Yet, as their population staggered toward extinction, and uncertainty prodded my brain, the monarchs above me seemed peaceful, unburdened. Sara Dykman, Smithsonian Magazine, "Biking 10,000 Miles With Monarchs," 14 Apr. 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

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Extinction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extinction. Accessed 8 May. 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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