: a selection from a writing or discourse : excerpt
: a product (such as an essence or concentrate) prepared by extracting
especially: a solution (as in alcohol) of essential constituents of a complex material (such as meat or an aromatic plant)
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Do you exact or extract revenge?
The verb exact (as in, "exacting revenge" or "exacting a promise") is not as commonly encountered as the adjective exact, (as in "an exact copy" or "exact measurements"). Sometimes people will mistakenly use the more common verb extract when they really want exact. Extract can refer to removing something by pulling or cutting or to getting information from someone who does not want to give it. While both words refer to getting something they are used in different ways. You extract a tooth, but you exact revenge.
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The Crisscrossing Histories of Abstract and Extract
Abstract is most frequently used as an adjective (“abstract ideas”) and a noun (“an abstract of the article”), but its somewhat less common use as a verb in English helps to clarify its Latin roots. The verb abstract is used to mean “summarize,” as in “abstracting an academic paper.” This meaning is a figurative derivative of the verb’s meanings “to remove” or “to separate.”
We trace the origins of abstract to the combination of the Latin roots ab-, a prefix meaning “from” or “away,” with the verb trahere, meaning “to pull” or “to draw.” The result was the Latin verb abstrahere, which meant “to remove forcibly” or “to drag away.” Its past participle abstractus had the meanings “removed,” “secluded,” “incorporeal,” and, ultimately, “summarized,” meanings which came to English from Medieval Latin.
Interestingly, the word passed from Latin into French with competing spellings as both abstract (closer to the Latin) and abstrait (which reflected the French form of abstrahere, abstraire), the spelling retained in modern French.
The idea of “removing” or “pulling away” connects abstract to extract, which stems from Latin through the combination of trahere with the prefix ex-, meaning “out of” or “away from.” Extract forms a kind of mirror image of abstract: more common as a verb, but also used as a noun and adjective. The adjective, meaning “derived or descended,” is now obsolete, as is a sense of the noun that overlapped with abstract, “summary.” The words intersected and have separated in modern English, but it’s easy to see that abstract applies to something that has been summarized, and summarized means “extracted from a larger work.”
educe implies the bringing out of something potential or latent.
educed order out of chaos
evoke implies a strong stimulus that arouses an emotion or an interest or recalls an image or memory.
a song that evokes warm memories
elicit usually implies some effort or skill in drawing forth a response.
careful questioning elicited the truth
extract implies the use of force or pressure in obtaining answers or information.
extracted a confession from him
extort suggests a wringing or wresting from one who resists strongly.
extorted their cooperation by threatening to inform
Examples of extract in a Sentence
He extracted a credit card from his wallet.
I had to have a tooth extracted.
The tumor was surgically extracted.
We finally extracted a confession from him.
Investigators were able to extract useful information from the company's financial records.
They are hoping to extract new insights from the test results.
The machines extract the juice from the apples.
oil extracted from sunflower seeds
venom extracted from poisonous snakes Noun
The recipe calls for a tablespoon of vanilla extract.
the anthology includes a long extract from the epic poem See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Focus on extracting clear, actionable insights, and avoid getting overwhelmed by technical jargon.—Justin Rende, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Empathy is our capacity to extract ourselves from our own beliefs and feelings–and understand why another individual may have theirs.—Morgan Mercer, Fortune, 28 Nov. 2023 House Republicans want to extract some sizable government cuts in these bills.—Allison Pecorin, ABC News, 27 Nov. 2023 China could also finance the project and extract payment either in tolls or from Russian oil and gas exports.—Mary Ilyushina, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2023 The film recounts Alex’s efforts to extract the truth from Marcus, who fears that any disclosures would be unbearable for them both.—Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023 Scrap businesses generally make money by taking cars apart to extract the most valuable widgets to resell.—WIRED, 17 Nov. 2023 The company has joined forces with Wall Street private-equity firms that employ physicians to extract wealth from the community and those physicians can be ‘removed from the schedule’ on a whim without justification.—Gretchen Morgenson, NBC News, 13 Nov. 2023 The song was completed at last by surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, among others, after new technology helped extract Lennon’s vocals from the original demo, while George Harrison guitar parts from the initial attempt to finish the track were also incorporated into the song.—Gary Trust, Billboard, 13 Nov. 2023
This detoxifying shower gel contains grapefruit extract to brighten skin, as well as salicylic acid to gently exfoliate and smooth, leaving skin more even, balanced and glowing.—Celia Shatzman, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 If your skin is looking a little dull, these two products will brighten up your complexion à la tranexamic acid, niacinamide, and lotus seed extract (SkinMedica) or L-ascorbic acid and hyaluronic acid (Obagi Medical).—Sarah Han, Allure, 28 Nov. 2023 Using all-natural ingredients, such as red ginseng, tangerine peel and herb extracts, the brand combines centuries-old medicinal practices with cutting-edge research, resulting in award-winning formulas.—Chris Schalkx, Condé Nast Traveler, 27 Nov. 2023 Vanilla extract: Elevates all the flavors of the cake.—Pam Lolley, Southern Living, 26 Nov. 2023 Hyaluronic acid and aloe water provide hydration, caffeine firms and brightens, and probiotic extracts smooth and de-puff the area’s delicate skin, leaving behind an awakened look every time.—Kayla Blanton, Peoplemag, 24 Nov. 2023 They are complemented by other Super 8 extracts that are reconstructed especially for the film.—Leo Barraclough, Variety, 24 Nov. 2023 Then, the 24-karat gold leaf mask is applied and left to soak in; once removed, a face oil containing gold flakes and rose extract is dabbed on, leaving you looking like royalty.—Katie Lockhart, Robb Report, 21 Nov. 2023 Enriched with aloe leaf extract and avocado oil, its gentle, non-comedogenic formula is perfect for maintaining hydrated, comfortable skin.—Kathy Barr, Rolling Stone, 15 Nov. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'extract.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English, from Latin extractus, past participle of extrahere, from ex- + trahere to draw