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 Deutsche was able to extricate itself entirely, Sewing said on Wednesday, and a clue to the bank's success lies in its ambitious restructuring plan. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, "Prescient restructuring aided Deutsche Bank’s Houdini-like escape from Archegos fallout," 28 Apr. 2021 Alina uses her powers to extricate herself from the locked carriage trunk. Nick Schager, EW.com, "Shadow and Bone binge-watch recap: Episodes 1-8," 23 Apr. 2021 That’s prompted a team of ocean animal experts from Dana Point to Monterey to closely follow the whale, hoping to get close enough to extricate it. Los Angeles Times, "Ocean debris again in spotlight as entangled baby whale struggles off California," 23 Apr. 2021 Other CEOs might simply have wished to find ways to avoid or extricate themselves and their companies from crossfires, while promoting airing of civic issues and disputes through more legitimate and effective fora. Robert Zafft, Forbes, "Voting Laws: When Should CEOs Lead Their Companies Into Crossfires?," 12 Apr. 2021 Identifying victims has been a slow, difficult process, and emergency personnel Sunday were still trying to extricate wreckage from the tunnel and recover the victims' remains. Amy Qin, Star Tribune, "Taiwan crash investigators focus on how truck fell in train's path," 4 Apr. 2021 Earlier, the canal authority had said in a statement that salvage crews were attempting to refloat the ship, with 10 tug boats being used to pull it from both front and back to try to extricate it. Michelle Toh, CNN, "Oil prices dip after ship stuck in Suez Canal is partially freed," 29 Mar. 2021 As Herrick and horse each fought to extricate the other, flames melted the tips off both ears of Lovely Finish and burned Herrick over 23 percent of his body. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Heartwarming horse-racing finish arrives for Joe Herrick, Lovely Finish," 24 Mar. 2021 Then again, to extricate yourself from the lists is also prohibitively expensive, entailing a convoluted process often beyond the reach of an average citizen. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Rahm Emanuel: Hey, Let’s Strip Gun Owners of Due-Process Rights," 29 Mar. 2021

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

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The first known use of extricate was in 1601

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Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Extricate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extricate. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce extricate (audio) \
extricated; extricating

Kids Definition of extricate

: to free from a trap or difficulty

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