[ ik-spuhnj ]
/ ɪkˈspʌndʒ /
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See synonyms for: expunge / expunged / expunging on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), ex·punged, ex·pung·ing.
to strike or blot out; erase; obliterate.
to efface; wipe out or destroy.
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Origin of expunge

1595–1605; <Latin expungere to blot out, erase, equivalent to ex-ex-1 + pungere to prick


ex·pung·er, nounun·ex·punged, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does expunge mean?

Expunge means to erase, delete, cross out, or destroy.

Expunge is especially used in the context of law, in which it means to remove an arrest or conviction from a person’s public criminal record.

A record that has been altered in this way can be described as expunged. The process of expunging can be called expungement or expunction.

Example: Many criminal justice reform advocates support the law, which would expand the range of offenses that could be expunged from criminal records.

Where does expunge come from?

The first records of the word expunge come from right around 1600. It comes from the Latin verb expungere, which means “to blot out” or “to erase.” The word expungere is a combination of ex-, meaning “out,” and pungere, “to prick.” It originally referred to how scribes marked a word in a manuscript for deletion.

Expunge is strongly associated with the practice of removing an arrest or conviction from a person’s permanent record. In some jurisdictions, an arrest may be expunged from a person’s record if they are not convicted. In some cases, a conviction may even be expunged from a person’s record after a certain amount of time has passed after their sentence is completed. Expunging such records means they will not be seen during employer background checks, for example (though a private record may still exist in law enforcement files). For people who have served their sentence, this gives them a better chance at overcoming some of the many obstacles that often prevent them from gaining employment, finding housing, and fully participating in other parts of life.

Expunge is most often used in the context of criminal records, but it can also be used generally. Still, it is often used in reference to erasing negative things, such as expunging events from history or expunging a bad experience from one’s memory.

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What are some other forms related to expunge?

  • expunged (past tense verb, adjective)
  • expunger (noun)
  • unexpunged (adjective)
  • expungement (noun)
  • expunction (noun)

What are some synonyms for expunge?

What are some words that share a root or word element with expunge

What are some words that often get used in discussing expunge?

How is expunge used in real life?

Expunge is most commonly used in the context of law and criminal records. It is usually used formally.



Try using expunge!

Is expunge used correctly in the following sentence?

I wish I could expunge those memories from my mind, but I fear they will haunt me forever.

How to use expunge in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for expunge

/ (ɪkˈspʌndʒ) /

verb (tr)
to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
to wipe out or destroy

Derived forms of expunge

expunction (ɪkˈspʌŋkʃən), nounexpunger, noun

Word Origin for expunge

C17: from Latin expungere to blot out, from pungere to prick
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