verb ex·tir·pate \ ˈek-stər-ˌpāt \
Updated on: 16 May 2018

Definition of extirpate

extirpated; extirpating
1 a : to destroy completely : wipe out
b : to pull up by the root
2 : to cut out by surgery


play \ˌek-stər-ˈpā-shən\ noun


play \ˈek-stər-ˌpā-tər\ noun

extirpate was our Word of the Day on 06/25/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of extirpate in a Sentence

  1. the triumph of modern medicine in extirpating certain diseases

Recent Examples of extirpate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extirpate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Dig Out the History of extirpate

If we do a little digging, we discover that extirpate finds its roots in, well, roots (and stumps). Early English uses of the word in the 16th century carried the meaning of "to clear of stumps" or "to pull something up by the root." Extirpate grew out of a combination of the Latin prefix ex- and the Latin noun stirps, meaning "trunk" or "root." The word stirp itself remains rooted in our own language as a term meaning "a line descending from a common ancestor."

Origin and Etymology of extirpate

Latin exstirpatus, past participle of exstirpare, from ex- + stirp-, stirps trunk, root

Synonym Discussion of extirpate

exterminate, extirpate, eradicate, uproot mean to effect the destruction or abolition of something. exterminate implies complete and immediate extinction by killing off all individuals.
    • exterminate cockroaches
extirpate implies extinction of a race, family, species, or sometimes an idea or doctrine by destruction or removal of its means of propagation.
    • many species have been extirpated from the area
eradicate implies the driving out or elimination of something that has established itself.
    • a campaign to eradicate illiteracy
uproot implies a forcible or violent removal and stresses displacement or dislodgment rather than immediate destruction.
    • the war uprooted thousands

EXTIRPATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of extirpate for English Language Learners

  • : to destroy or remove (something) completely

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