ex·​tri·​cate | \ˈek-strə-ˌkāt \
extricated; extricating

Definition of extricate 

transitive verb

1a archaic : unravel

b : to distinguish from a related thing

2 : to free or remove from an entanglement or difficulty

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Other Words from extricate

extricable \ik-​ˈstri-​kə-​bəl, ek-​ˈstri-​, ˈek-​(ˌ)stri-​ \ adjective
extrication \ˌek-​strə-​ˈkā-​shən \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for extricate

extricate, disentangle, untangle, disencumber, disembarrass mean to free from what binds or holds back. extricate implies the use of care or ingenuity in freeing from a difficult position or situation. extricated himself from financial difficulties disentangle and untangle suggest painstaking separation of a thing from other things. disentangling fact from fiction untangle a web of deceit disencumber implies a release from something that clogs or weighs down. an article disencumbered of jargon disembarrass suggests a release from something that impedes or hinders. disembarrassed herself of her advisers

Did You Know?

It can take an ample amount of dexterity - manual, verbal, or mental - to free yourself from a tangled situation. This can be seen in extricate, a word derived from Latin extricatus, which combines the prefix ex- ("out of") with the noun tricae, meaning "trifles or perplexities." (The resemblance of tricae to our word trick is no illusion; it’s an ancestor.) While a number of words (such as "disentangle") share with extricate the meaning of "to free from difficulty," extricate suggests the act of doing so with care and ingenuity, as in "Through months of careful budgeting, he was able to extricate himself from his financial burdens."

Examples of extricate in a Sentence

Several survivors were extricated from the wreckage. They extricated the tractor from the mud. She hasn't been able to extricate herself from her legal problems.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Trump has blamed his predecessor, Barack Obama, for Russia’s armed intervention in Ukraine and indicated little interest in extricating Crimea from Russia’s grasp. Washington Post, "After ‘diplomatic equivalent of a multiple-car pileup,’ U.S. allies brace for NATO summit," 28 June 2018 First responders worked for more than 20 minutes to extricate one man trapped in his car in the crash that occurred near 545 East. Alana Levene, BostonGlobe.com, "Two men critically injured in Brockton crash," 16 June 2018 To extricate oneself, a cog in the email machine, while the rest of us remain? Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "The Most Extreme Out-of-Office Message," 11 June 2018 Nor has the Trump administration shown much interest in areas where in the past U.S. foreign policy has explicitly relied on European integration to deliver its goals, for example in extricating itself from the Balkans. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Europe Ponders New World Order as Trans-Atlantic Ties Fray," 12 June 2018 If the deal collapses, Iran would be free to resume prohibited enrichment activities, while businesses and banks doing business with Iran would have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the US. Josh Lederman And Catherine Lucey, The Christian Science Monitor, "Trump pulls US out of Iran nuclear deal," 8 May 2018 MacNicol, meanwhile, is extricating herself from a relationship with a married man, while carrying on an intense text-message flirtation with an unidentified celebrity. Joanna Scutts, chicagotribune.com, "Childless, single, 40: Why is it a problem?," 12 July 2018 Cave rescuers in the Southeast have watched with apprehension and relief as the 12 boys trapped in a Thailand cavern have been extricated, one by one. Bo Emerson, ajc, "Cave rescuers in Southeast watch their Thai colleagues with admiration," 10 July 2018 There are many questions about what will happen when—and if—the United Kingdom extricates itself from these systems; how goods will flow, how the port will operate. Georgina Voss, The Atlantic, "Brexit Could Cripple Britain’s Ports," 20 June 2018

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

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for extricate

Latin extricatus, past participle of extricare, from ex- + tricae trifles, perplexities

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Statistics for extricate

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for extricate

The first known use of extricate was in 1601

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More Definitions for extricate



English Language Learners Definition of extricate

: to free or remove (someone or something) from something (such as a trap or a difficult situation)


ex·​tri·​cate | \ˈek-strə-ˌkāt \
extricated; extricating

Kids Definition of extricate

: to free from a trap or difficulty

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