Definition of obliterate
1a : to remove utterly from recognition or memory … a successful love crowned all other successes and obliterated all other failures. — J. W. Krutchb : 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 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 4 obliterate a postage stamp
obliterationplay \ə-ˌbli-tə-ˈrā-shən, ō-\ noun
obliteratorplay \ə-ˈbli-tə-ˌrā-tər, ō-\ noun
obliterate was our Word of the Day on 04/28/2012. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Examples of obliterate in a Sentence
in a stroke, the March snowstorm obliterated our hopes for an early spring
Recent Examples of obliterate from the Web
Reserving freedom of speech for popular views would obliterate the core purpose of the First Amendment — to shelter the dissident.
Doctors also used chemicals and radiation to obliterate his bone marrow, the source of all his blood cells—a crude but effective strategy to destroy any cancerous ones that survived chemotherapy.
Naturally, this causes a rift with only child Zack, who gets his revenge by obliterating New York with a nuclear bomb.
Fifty-seven homers would also obliterate the rookie home run record of 49 set by Mark McGwire in 1987.
The force of the crash and fuel explosion had obliterated the airplane and triggered a massive avalanche.
Now showing at MoMA PS1, FLY completely obliterates the 'normal' Western expectations of Muslim culture and women with unexpected humor.
Critics of world literature, Kirsch writes, see translation into English and the homogenization of style as obliterating nuance.
Remarkably, much of the liquor in a Fairfield store destroyed by the twister, seemed untouched and remained upright on the shelves although the walls had been obliterated.
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.
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, 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. Eventually (by the late 18th century), its meaning was generalized to removing anything from existence. In the meantime, another sense had developed. In the late 17th century, 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."
Origin and Etymology of obliterate
Latin oblitteratus, past participle of oblitterare, from ob- ob- + littera letter
First Known Use: 1548See Words from the same year
OBLITERATE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of obliterate for English Language Learners
: to destroy (something) completely so that nothing is left
OBLITERATE Defined for Kids
Definition of obliterate for Students
: to remove, destroy, or hide completely
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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up obliterate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).