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 In the early morning hours of October 25, 1944, the Southern Force was obliterated by the battleships of the 7th Fleet in the Surigao Strait, old veterans of Pearl Harbor that had been raised and upgraded. Haomiao Huang, Ars Technica, "How computational power—or its absence—shaped World War naval battles," 25 Mar. 2020 The rial has lost half its value as compared to the dollar since the summer of 2017, which means the costs of goods and services (especially food, utilities, and gasoline) are spiking and families' savings are being obliterated. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "Iran needs sanction relief to get through this pandemic," 18 Mar. 2020 The continuing rout in global stocks obliterated about $4 trillion of market value Monday, but one billionaire is managing to avoid the onslaught as social distancing becomes the norm. Devon Pendleton, Fortune, "The rise of social distancing during coronavirus pandemic pushes Zoom founder’s net worth up by $2 billion in 2020," 17 Mar. 2020 The plunge obliterated more than $5 trillion in wealth, a good chunk of it belonging to those evil millionaires and billionaires. Michael Tanner, National Review, "The Benefits of Inequality," 11 Mar. 2020 The tanker was practically obliterated by the fire and explosions, and the bridge is being inspected for significant damage. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "She gave birth on Sunday. She helped save a man from an exploding tanker on Thursday.," 21 Feb. 2020 In 2019, major league hitters obliterated the record for home runs in a season. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Astros' sign-stealing, juiced baseballs the biggest unknowns for 2020 MLB season," 21 Feb. 2020 Even if the antechinus in the fire’s area manage to survive, the ecosystem’s insects will have been obliterated. Matt Simon, Wired, "This Marsupial Dies After Marathon Mating. Now It's Got Bigger Worries," 12 Feb. 2020 GeForce Now obliterates Google Stadia’s value proposition in every way, from game selection to pricing. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Nvidia's play-anywhere GeForce Now service is finally here, and it demolishes Google Stadia," 4 Feb. 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

31 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obliterate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obliterate. Accessed 1 Apr. 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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