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 obliteration (audio) , ō-​ \ noun
obliterator \ ə-​ˈbli-​tə-​ˌrā-​tər How to pronounce obliterator (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 Return of the Jedi (1983) If this movie came out in 2020, it would probably get obliterated by Twitter instead of its actual reality as finale to arguably the greatest film trilogy of all time. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al, "All the ‘Star Wars’ movies ranked: May the 4th be with you," 4 May 2020 James Charles, the first male face of CoverGirl, was absolutely obliterated after feuding with another beauty YouTuber, losing more than 3 million followers on Instagram over the course of a few days. Alain Sylvain, Quartz at Work, "What happens when social media’s “cancel culture” misses the point?," 1 Aug. 2019 Some front-runners are obliterated by early stumbles, some — Ronald Reagan in 1980 is the classic example — recover and prevail. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 11 July 2019 Like tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses, and pangolins, all of which teeter on the brink of extinction, the porpoise has been obliterated, indirectly, by China's reckless appetite for exotic animal products. Adam Elder, Wired, "How a Pudgy Porpoise May Save Other Animals From Extinction," 16 Apr. 2020 The rhythms of everyday life have been obliterated, leaving people stuck in their homes, many of them alone. New York Times, "Looking for Hope, Uplift or Just a Distraction From Virus Fears? Read On.," 28 Mar. 2020 The rhythms of everyday life have been obliterated, leaving people stuck in their homes, many of them alone. Rick Rojas, BostonGlobe.com, "Looking for hope, uplift, or just a distraction from virus fears? Read on.," 28 Mar. 2020 Thousands of homes have been turned to ash, several towns have been obliterated, and twenty-eight people have died. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, "When Will Australia’s Prime Minister Accept the Reality of the Climate Crisis?," 15 Jan. 2020 Maryland has been obliterated in its past four games and suffered six straight losses. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Predicting Michigan football vs. Ohio State showdown, Michigan State-Maryland," 29 Nov. 2019

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

12 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obliterate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obliterate. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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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 obliteration (audio) \ noun

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Comments on obliterate

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