ex·​tir·​pate ˈek-stər-ˌpāt How to pronounce extirpate (audio)
extirpated; extirpating

transitive verb

: to destroy completely : wipe out
: to pull up by the root
: to cut out by surgery
extirpation noun
extirpator noun

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Dig Out the History of Extirpate

You don’t have to dig too deep into the history of extirpate to discover that its roots are in, well, roots (and stumps). Extirpate grew out of a combining of the Latin prefix ex-, meaning “out,” and the Latin noun stirps, “trunk” or “root.” Among the earliest definitions of extirpate in English were “to uproot” and “to clear of stumps,” as well as the broader meaning of “to destroy completely” or “wipe out.” While today we often encounter extirpate in relation to plant and animal species that have been regrettably removed from a specific region or in total, intangibles such as evil or prejudice, for example, may also be extirpated. We hope this helps but if you find yourself stumped the next time you encounter extirpate, just remember we’re rooting for you.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of extirpate in a Sentence

the triumph of modern medicine in extirpating certain diseases
Recent Examples on the Web They were largely extirpated from Colorado by 1919 (and from the rest of the West by the 1930s) and were added to the state’s endangered species list in 1973. Steven Hill, Field & Stream, 30 May 2024 Their historic range included parts of Arizona, California, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas, but jaguars were extirpated from the United States by the mid-20th century due to loss of habitat and hunting. Hayleigh Evans, The Arizona Republic, 29 Jan. 2024 For some 50 years, the two main predators of moose--wolves and grizzlies--have been absent from the southern portion of the Yellowstone ecosystem, extirpated by humans. Mark Wheeler, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 In their wisdom, voters sought to extirpate Donald Trump from the White House in 2020 with surgical precision while leaving much of the Republican Party around him intact. Noah Rothman, National Review, 17 Jan. 2024 See all Example Sentences for extirpate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'extirpate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of extirpate was in 1535


Dictionary Entries Near extirpate

Cite this Entry

“Extirpate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extirpate. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


ex·​tir·​pate ˈek-stər-ˌpāt How to pronounce extirpate (audio)
extirpated; extirpating
: to pull up by the roots
: to destroy completely
extirpation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on extirpate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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