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[ik-stingk-shuh n] /ɪkˈstɪŋk ʃən/
the act of extinguishing.
the fact or condition of being extinguished or extinct.
suppression; abolition; annihilation:
the extinction of an army.
Biology. the act or process of becoming extinct; a coming to an end or dying out:
the extinction of a species.
Psychology. the reduction or loss of a conditioned response as a result of the absence or withdrawal of reinforcement.
Astronomy. the diminution in the intensity of starlight caused by absorption as it passes through the earth's atmosphere or through interstellar dust.
Crystallography, Optics. the darkness that results from rotation of a thin section to an angle (extinction angle) at which plane-polarized light is absorbed by the polarizer.
Origin of extinction
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English extinccio(u)n < Latin ex(s)tinctiōn- (stem of ex(s)tinctiō). See extinct, -ion
Related forms
nonextinction, noun
preextinction, noun
self-extinction, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for extinction


the act of making extinct or the state of being extinct
the act of extinguishing or the state of being extinguished
complete destruction; annihilation
(physics) reduction of the intensity of radiation as a result of absorption or scattering by matter
(astronomy) the dimming of light from a celestial body as it passes through an absorbing or scattering medium, such as the earth's atmosphere or interstellar dust
(psychol) a process in which the frequency or intensity of a learned response is decreased as a result of reinforcement being withdrawn Compare habituation
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for extinction

early 15c., from Latin extinctionem/exstinctionem (nominative extinctio/exstinctio), noun of action from past participle stem of extinguere/exstinguere (see extinguish). Originally of fires, lights; figurative use, of wiping out a material thing (a debt, a person, a family, etc.) from early 17c.; of species by 1784.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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extinction in Medicine

extinction ex·tinc·tion (ĭk-stĭngk'shən)
Progressive reduction in the strength of the conditioned response in successive conditioning trials during which only the conditioned stimulus is presented and the unconditioned stimulus is omitted. See absorbance.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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extinction in Science
  1. The fact of being extinct or the process of becoming extinct. See more at background extinction, mass extinction.

  2. A progressive decrease in the strength of a conditioned response, often resulting in its elimination, because of withdrawal of a specific stimulus.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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extinction in Culture

extinction definition

The disappearance of a species from the Earth.

Note: The fossil record tells us that 99.9 percent of all species that ever lived are now extinct.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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