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

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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, 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."

Examples of obliterate in a Sentence

in a stroke, the March snowstorm obliterated our hopes for an early spring
Recent Examples on the Web Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has a chance to obliterate records during the last three regular-season games. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "Chiefs vs. Saints live stream (12/20): How to watch Mahomes vs. Brees online, TV, time," 20 Dec. 2020 This would obliterate what is left of judicial independence. Westen K Shilaho, Quartz Africa, "Kenyans should reject the latest round of proposed constitutional changes," 7 Dec. 2020 Enthusiasts make online videos showing people using them to obliterate game and take down trees. Washington Post, "The sniper rifles flowing to Mexican cartels show a decade of U.S. failure," 19 Nov. 2020 No player has ever accomplished that more than eight times in a single season, but Murray could obliterate that record. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, "Cardinals fall short in quest to take over control of NFC West, fall to Dolphins," 9 Nov. 2020 Most Americans don't want to defund the police, or demonize them, or obliterate statues of Washington, Jefferson and both Roosevelts, or have endless riots in our cities. Keith C. Burris Pittsburgh Post-gazette (tns), Star Tribune, "A startling hypothesis: What if voters actually know what they want?," 20 Nov. 2020 Even the rust and rot can’t obliterate the charm of this no-frills, old-school field, with its precise lines of elegant sycamores shading many of the bleachers. Sharon Grigsby, Dallas News, "New plan emerges to restore Dallas’ decaying Reverchon baseball field without harming its old-school vibe," 20 Nov. 2020 Your Governor wants to obliterate your Second Amendment. Washington Post, "Trump can’t stop tweeting about ever-bluer Virginia and its governor. But his campaign is quiet on TV.," 8 Oct. 2020 But with more and more people living in the forested mountains of California, the state can’t afford to let wildfires burn and obliterate towns. Matt Simon, Wired, "The Case for Reviving the Civilian Conservation Corps," 23 Oct. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of obliterate was in 1548

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Statistics for obliterate

Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Obliterate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obliterate. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for obliterate

obliterate

verb
How to pronounce obliterate (audio)

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

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Comments on obliterate

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