ex·​tri·​cate | \ ˈek-strə-ˌkāt How to pronounce extricate (audio) \
extricated; extricating

Definition of extricate

transitive verb

1 : to free or remove from an entanglement or difficulty
2a : to distinguish from a related thing
b archaic : unravel

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Other Words from extricate

extricable \ ik-​ˈstri-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce extricable (audio) , ek-​ˈstri-​ , ˈek-​(ˌ)stri-​ How to pronounce extricable (audio) \ adjective
extrication \ ˌek-​strə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce extrication (audio) \ 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 Two people became trapped inside the white sedan and had to be extricated, police said. Michelle Iracheta, Houston Chronicle, "Drunk driver crashes during Pasadena pursuit, injures 3, police say," 9 Sep. 2019 One person had to be extricated from a vehicle after a motor vehicle collision at MD Route 140 at Hughes Shop Road in Westminster late Monday. Mary Grace Keller, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "One flown to Shock Trauma after head-on collision, police say at-fault driver may have been under the influence," 27 Aug. 2019 Two people were injured and at least one person became trapped and had to be extricated. Washington Post, "Southbound lanes of I-395 reopen after Alexandria crash," 26 Aug. 2019 The Corbett Fire Department said four people were transported to the hospital and two people had to be extricated from their vehicle. oregonlive.com, "I-84 westbound reopened after two-car crash at Multnomah Falls," 18 Aug. 2019 The woman, who was the only occupant in the pickup, had to be extricated and taken to an area hospital. Loyd Brumfield, Dallas News, "Woman hurt in crash that left her pickup standing on end in west Oak Cliff," 30 July 2019 The seriously injured adult was trapped in the car and had to be extricated, Assistant Fire Chief Doug Racicot said. Christine Dempsey, courant.com, "Four injured in Tolland crash, one seriously," 25 June 2019 Two passengers were able to free themselves from the truck, but the driver had to be extricated by first responders. Deanna Weniger, Twin Cities, "23-year-old St. Paul man killed in car crash ‘a beautiful man’," 17 June 2019 Firefighters needed to extricate both of the drivers as they were pinned in the collision, according to the St. Paul fire department. Mara H. Gottfried, Twin Cities, "8 hospitalized when buses collide on Minnesota 280 on first day of State Fair," 22 Aug. 2019

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 2b

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

6 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for extricate

The first known use of extricate was in 1601

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More Definitions for extricate


How to pronounce extricate (audio)

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 How to pronounce extricate (audio) \
extricated; extricating

Kids Definition of extricate

: to free from a trap or difficulty

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Comments on extricate

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


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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