obliterate

verb
oblit·​er·​ate | \ ə-ˈbli-tə-ˌrāt How to pronounce obliterate (audio) , ō- \
obliterated; obliterating

Definition of obliterate

transitive verb

1a : to remove utterly from recognition or memory … a successful love crowned all other successes and obliterated all other failures.— J. W. Krutch
b : to remove from existence : destroy utterly all trace, indication, or significance of The tide eventually obliterated all evidence of our sandcastles.
c medical : to cause (something, such as a bodily part, a scar, or a duct conveying body fluid) to disappear or collapse : remove sense 4 a blood vessel obliterated by inflammation
2 : to make undecipherable or imperceptible by obscuring or wearing away A dimness like a fog envelops consciousness / As mist obliterates a crag.— Emily Dickinson
3 : cancel sense 2 obliterate a postage stamp

Other Words from obliterate

obliteration \ ə-​ˌbli-​tə-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce obliterate (audio) , ō-​ \ noun
obliterator \ ə-​ˈbli-​tə-​ˌrā-​tər How to pronounce obliterate (audio) , ō-​ \ noun

Did you know?

Far from being removed from existence, obliterate is thriving in our language today with various senses that it has acquired over the years. True to its Latin source, oblitteratus—from the prefix ob-, meaning "in the way," and littera, meaning "letter"—it began in the mid-16th century as a word for removing something from memory. Soon after, English speakers began to use it for the specific act of blotting out or obscuring anything written, and eventually its meaning was generalized to removing anything from existence. In the meantime, physicians began using obliterate for the surgical act of filling or closing up a vessel, cavity, or passage with tissue. Its final stamp on the English lexicon was delivered in the mid-19th century: "to cancel a postage or revenue stamp."

Examples of obliterate in a Sentence

in a stroke, the March snowstorm obliterated our hopes for an early spring
Recent Examples on the Web The changes eliminated standardized tests as a major determinant of who is granted admission; critics say the changes obliterate high academic standards in the name of equity and diversity. Matthew Barakat, ajc, 24 Dec. 2021 After the queens died, Fredegund’s son, King Chlothar II, took steps to obliterate the memory and legacy of his aunt and even of his own mother. Shelley Puhak, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Jan. 2022 Curry has a chance to obliterate the mark when all is said and done. Scooby Axson, USA TODAY, 14 Dec. 2021 And since a landslide would obliterate the bluff-hugging trail and eliminate access to a popular beach, a stairway was needed—something sturdy enough to withstand a bluff collapse. Paul Kvinta, Outside Online, 13 Dec. 2021 Andrews is on pace to obliterate his previous career highs in receptions and receiving yards. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, 22 Nov. 2021 But to be extra sure, the next step blasts the water with UV light, to obliterate any microbes and other trace contaminants. Matt Simon, Wired, 18 Oct. 2021 Adele’s next album could debut with one-fifth the sales of 25 and still obliterate all other competition — and that sort of decay is unlikely, seeing as fans have feverishly anticipated a new release for nearly six years. Bryan Rolli, Forbes, 30 Sep. 2021 But the 4 1/2-sack performance put Garrett on pace for 25 1/2, which would shatter Michael Strahan’s single-season record of 22 1/2, and obliterate the Browns’ single-season record of 14, set by Reggie Camp in 1984. cleveland, 29 Sep. 2021

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

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for obliterate

borrowed from Latin oblīterātus, oblitterātus, past participle of oblīterāre, oblitterāre "to cause to be forgotten or fall into disuse, make disappear," from ob- "against, facing" + -līterāre, litterāre, verbal derivative of lītera, littera letter entry 1 — more at ob-

Note: The original meaning of oblīterāre was apparently "to wipe out letters, words, etc.," but this sense is not clearly attested in classical Latin. Attested senses appear to have been influenced by oblītus, past participle of oblīvīscī "to forget, put out of mind" (cf. oblivion).

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Time Traveler for obliterate

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The first known use of obliterate was in 1548

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Dictionary Entries Near obliterate

obliterable

obliterate

obliteratingly

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Last Updated

21 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Obliterate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obliterate. Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for obliterate

obliterate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of obliterate

: to destroy (something) completely so that nothing is left

obliterate

verb
oblit·​er·​ate | \ ə-ˈbli-tə-ˌrāt How to pronounce obliterate (audio) \
obliterated; obliterating

Kids Definition of obliterate

: to remove, destroy, or hide completely

obliterate

transitive verb
oblit·​er·​ate | \ ə-ˈblit-ə-ˌrāt, ō- How to pronounce obliterate (audio) \
obliterated; obliterating

Medical Definition of obliterate

: to cause to disappear (as a bodily part or a scar) or collapse (as a duct conveying body fluid) a blood vessel obliterated by inflammation

Other Words from obliterate

obliteration \ -​ˌblit-​ə-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce obliterate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on obliterate

Nglish: Translation of obliterate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obliterate for Arabic Speakers

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