ex·​tri·​cate | \ ˈek-strə-ˌkāt How to pronounce extricate (audio) \
extricated; extricating

Definition of extricate

transitive verb

1 : to free or remove from an entanglement or difficulty
2a : to distinguish from a related thing
b archaic : unravel

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Other Words from extricate

extricable \ ik-​ˈstri-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce extricate (audio) , ek-​ˈstri-​ , ˈek-​(ˌ)stri-​ How to pronounce extricate (audio) \ adjective
extrication \ ˌek-​strə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce extricate (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for extricate

extricate, disentangle, untangle, disencumber, disembarrass mean to free from what binds or holds back. extricate implies the use of care or ingenuity in freeing from a difficult position or situation. extricated himself from financial difficulties disentangle and untangle suggest painstaking separation of a thing from other things. disentangling fact from fiction untangle a web of deceit disencumber implies a release from something that clogs or weighs down. an article disencumbered of jargon disembarrass suggests a release from something that impedes or hinders. disembarrassed herself of her advisers

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It can take an ample amount of dexterity - manual, verbal, or mental - to free yourself from a tangled situation. This can be seen in extricate, a word derived from Latin extricatus, which combines the prefix ex- ("out of") with the noun tricae, meaning "trifles or perplexities." (The resemblance of tricae to our word trick is no illusion; it’s an ancestor.) While a number of words (such as "disentangle") share with extricate the meaning of "to free from difficulty," extricate suggests the act of doing so with care and ingenuity, as in "Through months of careful budgeting, he was able to extricate himself from his financial burdens."

Examples of extricate in a Sentence

Several survivors were extricated from the wreckage. They extricated the tractor from the mud. She hasn't been able to extricate herself from her legal problems.
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Recent Examples on the Web There's also a QR code on the vehicle's windshield that, when scanned, can give first responders information on where the battery and airbags are located and instructions to extricate injured occupants from the vehicle quickly and safely. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 8 Sep. 2021 Jabra Ghneim is helping his friend Malal, who is trying to extricate his family from Afghanistan. Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Sep. 2021 Evacuations of Afghans who did make it to the airport slowed markedly over the weekend, as the operation to extricate more of the 6,000 US troops rushed to Afghanistan after the fall of Kabul cranked into a higher gear. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 30 Aug. 2021 First responders had to extricate Grewal and Herrera from the patrol vehicle, CHP officials said. Lauren Hernández, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Aug. 2021 The skylight has been lifted off Toland Hall to create an opening large enough to extricate the panels by crane. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Aug. 2021 On the route to the airport, the sound of gunfire could be heard, and a massive traffic jam developed, with cars facing in every direction as some drivers tried to turn around and extricate themselves while others sought to plow forward. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, 17 Aug. 2021 Like Biden, those leaders are now scrambling to extricate the Afghan workers who assisted during the war as interpreters, guards and fixers. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, 19 Aug. 2021 Who wouldn’t want to watch this small creature, thrown into a situation so much bigger than itself, extricate itself with notably more grace, dignity and poise than its predecessors? New York Times, 18 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extricate.' 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 extricate

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for extricate

Latin extricatus, past participle of extricare, from ex- + tricae trifles, perplexities

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Time Traveler for extricate

Time Traveler

The first known use of extricate was in 1601

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Last Updated

17 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Extricate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extricate. Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for extricate



English Language Learners Definition of extricate

: to free or remove (someone or something) from something (such as a trap or a difficult situation)


ex·​tri·​cate | \ ˈek-strə-ˌkāt How to pronounce extricate (audio) \
extricated; extricating

Kids Definition of extricate

: to free from a trap or difficulty

More from Merriam-Webster on extricate

Nglish: Translation of extricate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of extricate for Arabic Speakers


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