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 extricate (audio) , ek-​ˈstri-​ , ˈek-​(ˌ)stri-​ How to pronounce extricate (audio) \ adjective
extrication \ ˌek-​strə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce extricate (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 His mother managed to extricate the necessary equipment with impressive efficiency, and for the next twenty-four hours, this moment sustained my daughter. Rachel Louise Snyder, The New Yorker, "A Difficult, Beautiful Christmas in the Arctic Circle," 22 Dec. 2020 Four fire engines and a rescue rig from Cal Fire arrived on the scene at 12:15 p.m., and about 20 firefighters tried to extricate the driver from where the cab had been smashed in, Shoots said. City News Service, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Big rig driver killed in crash in Campo," 19 Dec. 2020 Today, the country appears ready once again for a short list of straightforward steps to extricate America from the current health and economic quicksand. Robert Moilanen, Star Tribune, "A mission for a new administration: Tell the truth, obey the law," 27 Dec. 2020 Overton said firefighters had to extricate victims from the two vehicles. Jamie Landers, The Arizona Republic, "4 seriously injured, 1 dead in multi-vehicle crash in Phoenix," 5 Dec. 2020 Both drivers were trapped in their vehicles for about 30 minutes as crews from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and Heartland Fire & Rescue worked to extricate them, according to the Fire-Rescue Department. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, "SDPD: Wrong-way driver killed in head-on crash near Mission Trails," 4 Dec. 2020 Keep friends on hand who will support your ideas or extricate you from any jam. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Nov. 23, 2020: Gemini, use expanded perceptions of empathy; Leo, avoid social media," 23 Nov. 2020 The increasingly aggressive application of these policies at Hoag, which was founded as a Presbyterian institution, prompted Hoag’s board of directors to move last year to extricate the hospital from its affiliation with Providence. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: At a top hospital, Catholic restrictions on women’s healthcare are growing worse," 2 Nov. 2020 Making matters messier still, the French government was dragged into the showdown after Arnault requested the help of Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to extricate itself from the deal. Angelina Rascouet, Bloomberg.com, "LVMH Clinches Tiffany at Small Discount and a Lot of Bad Blood," 29 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for extricate

Time Traveler

The first known use of extricate was in 1601

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Extricate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extricate. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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

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