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 The royal apartments at the Residential Palace are reopening 300 years after they were first unveiled and 74 years after they were obliterated by Allied bombs. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The “Versailles of Dresden” Has Been Rebuilt, 74 Years After World War II," 27 Sep. 2019 After Hurricane Irma in 2017, thousands of green sea turtle nests at beaches along south Brevard County were obliterated, officials said. Lisa Maria Garza, orlandosentinel.com, "Hurricane Dorian: Sea turtle nests in danger of being washed out," 4 Sep. 2019 Edgar had never been knocked out before that fight, when he was obliterated. Justin Barrasso, SI.com, "Two Main Cards at UFC 240 Make Up for Event's Lack of Depth," 26 July 2019 Child of Krakatau,’’ is the geologic offspring of the infamous Krakatau volcano, better known as Krakatoa, which was obliterated in a massive eruption in 1883 and caused the deaths of some 36,000 people. I Made Sentana, WSJ, "Rain Slows Search for Tsunami Dead, as Indonesia Recalls 2004 Disaster," 26 Dec. 2018 And the team that could make that pick, the Miami Dolphins, opened the season by getting obliterated by the Ravens on Sunday. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Mark Ingram on Tua Tagovailoa: ‘We got a special quarterback in Tuscaloosa’," 11 Sep. 2019 Pack binoculars to view the waterfowl, frogs and wild turkeys that thrive in the marshy perimeter where shoreline footpaths are sometimes obliterated by flattened reeds, soggy backwaters and hip-high grasses. Mare Czinar, azcentral, "Fun summer hikes in Arizona: These hidden little lakes attract wildlife, hikers and anglers," 5 July 2019 Though the Bund was largely obliterated by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the group’s opposition to Zionism better explains its absence from current consciousness. The New York Review of Books, "Molly Crabapple," 23 May 2019 Knucklehead of the Week MLB All-time homer record obliterated. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "NCAA says California could spoil college athletics. It’s a tired argument," 14 Sep. 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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Statistics for obliterate

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for obliterate

The first known use of obliterate was in 1548

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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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