ex·​tin·​guish | \ik-ˈstiŋ-(g)wish \
extinguished; extinguishing; extinguishes

Definition of extinguish 

transitive verb

1a(1) : to bring to an end : make an end of hope for their safety was slowly extinguished

(2) : to reduce to silence or ineffectiveness

b : to cause to cease burning : quench

c : to cause extinction of (a conditioned response)

d : to dim the brightness of : eclipse

2a : to cause to be void : nullify extinguish a claim

b : to get rid of usually by payment extinguish a debt

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Other Words from extinguish

extinguishable \ik-​ˈstiŋ-​(g)wi-​shə-​bəl \ adjective
extinguisher \ik-​ˈstiŋ-​(g)wi-​shər \ noun
extinguishment \ik-​ˈstiŋ-​(g)wish-​mənt \ noun

Examples of extinguish in a Sentence

The fire department was called in to extinguish the blaze. He extinguished his cigarette in the ashtray. They ruthlessly extinguished all resistance. News of the conflict extinguished our hopes for a peaceful resolution.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Over nearly a century, land managers have worked to extinguish blazes as quickly as possible rather than letting them run their course. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Ryan Zinke blamed environmentalists for California’s massive wildfires. Again.," 21 Nov. 2018 Brutally honest, outspoken and fearless Goes with their gut, never favors appearance 'Cause who has time for vanity with opponents to extinguish? Halsey, Glamour, "Halsey Has a Poem With a Powerful Message for All Women: 'Be Inconvenient'," 11 Nov. 2018 Challenge-takers pour rubbing alcohol on themselves and light themselves on fire before rushing to extinguish the flames with water — and film themselves the whole time. Sarah Mearhoff, Teen Vogue, "A "Fire Challenge" Gone Wrong Left a 12-Year-Old With Serious Burns," 21 Aug. 2018 Hinch spoke before Friday's game of Morton's easy ability to extinguish the bitter memories of that forgettable night. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Evan Gattis' grand slam lifts Astros over Royals," 15 June 2018 And rangers say campers are failing to extinguish their campfires, creating an untenable situation. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "Wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona force closure of large chunks of forest," 12 June 2018 Flames threatened about 80 homes, prompting mandatory evacuations as ground crews and air-tanker helicopters worked to extinguish the flames. City News Service, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Firefighters continue to douse hot spots left behind by Adobe Falls fire," 4 June 2018 Firefighters extinguished the fire by 8:20 a.m., the spokesman said. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "Deadly Car Crash Shuts Down Brooklyn Bridge," 21 Nov. 2018 The structure was engulfed in flames as firefighters poured on water from the exterior, according to the tweet at 5:33 a.m. The incident was called in at 5:16 a.m., and was almost completely extinguished by 6:40, Tinsley said. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "Fire in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood damages town houses under construction," 13 Sep. 2018

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

circa 1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for extinguish

Latin exstinguere (from ex- + stinguere to extinguish) + English -ish (as in abolish); akin to Latin instigare to incite — more at stick

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Statistics for extinguish

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for extinguish

The first known use of extinguish was circa 1540

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More Definitions for extinguish



English Language Learners Definition of extinguish

: to cause (something) to stop burning

: to cause the end or death of (something)


ex·​tin·​guish | \ik-ˈstiŋ-gwish \
extinguished; extinguishing

Kids Definition of extinguish

1 : to cause to stop burning

2 : to cause to die out More bad news extinguished all hope.

Other Words from extinguish

extinguisher noun


transitive verb
ex·​tin·​guish | \ik-ˈstiŋ-(g)wish \

Medical Definition of extinguish 

: to cause extinction of (a conditioned response) extinguish an avoidance response

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transitive verb

Legal Definition of extinguish 

1 : to cause the nonexistence of : do away with

2 : to cause (as a claim or right) to be void : nullify

3 : to get rid of (a debt or other liability) by payment or other compensatory adjustment

Other Words from extinguish

extinguishable adjective
extinguishment noun

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Comments on extinguish

What made you want to look up extinguish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

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