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

Those 61 round-trippers also represent a whopping 24.4% of the total given up this year by Orioles pitching (which, by the way, is on pace to obliterate the all-time record for most allowed by one team in a season). Jon Tayler, SI.com, "14 Mind-Boggling Stats Behind the Yankees' Season-Long Destruction of the Orioles," 15 Aug. 2019 The razor industry saw an opportunity and pounced—running ads encouraging women to obliterate their leg fuzz. Sangeeta Singh-kurtz, Quartzy, "A new razor brand is encouraging women not to shave," 24 July 2019 Remember when Nebraska used to obliterate college football? Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "So, you want Big Ten realignment? Stop being soft | Opinion," 20 July 2019 The only difference is the drag of the ball has changed, resulting in the home runs hit in baseball history the first half, and on pace to obliterate every home run record. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Major League Baseball is at a crossroads. What does it want to become?," 9 July 2019 After the Camp Fire, a news collaboration involving USA TODAY checked to see which single-family homes had survived in Paradise, and which were obliterated. AZCentral.com, "Of small communities across 11 states, more than 500 have a higher wildfire hazard potential than Paradise, Calif.," 23 July 2019 By the 1980's, the population had been obliterated to only 31 living in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sheeka Sanahori, USA TODAY, "Poachers forced this rhino subspecies to two. Scientists are in a race to save them.," 22 July 2019 Far below, white clouds cast dark shadows on the Aegean’s great, obliterating plain. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 Buildings along the coast appeared to have either disappeared, with their tin roofs flattened to the ground, or been obliterated into ruins. Tatan Syuflana, The Seattle Times, "Tsunami and quake survivors eat last bit of food and seethe," 3 Oct. 2018

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

19 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obliterate

The first known use of obliterate was in 1548

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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 obliteration (audio) \ noun

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