verb (used with object), ex·ter·mi·nat·ed, ex·ter·mi·nat·ing.

to get rid of by destroying; destroy totally; extirpate: to exterminate an enemy; to exterminate insects.

Origin of exterminate

1535–45; < Latin exterminātus, past participle of extermināre to extermine; see -ate1
Related formsex·ter·mi·na·ble [ik-stur-muh-nuh-buhl] /ɪkˈstɜr mə nə bəl/, adjectiveex·ter·mi·na·tion, nounnon·ex·ter·mi·na·tion, nounself-ex·ter·mi·na·tion, nounun·ex·ter·mi·na·ble, adjectiveun·ex·ter·mi·nat·ed, adjective

Synonyms for exterminate

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for exterminate

Contemporary Examples of exterminate

  • Riegner warned the Allies that Berlin had a plan to exterminate all Jews in countries occupied or controlled by Germany.

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    The Savior of Sobibor

    Richard Rashke

    October 14, 2013

  • I think your efforts also may rival that of Germany's Adolf Hitler in his attempt to exterminate an entire race of people.

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    Pol Pot and Me (and Guns)

    Michael Tomasky

    May 8, 2013

  • “We expect the regime to try to exterminate us all,” he said.

  • Despite having the nickname “the exterminator,” DeLay did not try to exterminate wasteful spending when in power.

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    He's Back!

    John Avlon

    March 8, 2009

  • Next was World War II: machine enabled Hitler, who in turn attempted to exterminate an entire people.

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    How ‘Her’ Gets the Future Right

    Andrew Romano

    December 21, 2013

Historical Examples of exterminate

British Dictionary definitions for exterminate



(tr) to destroy (living things, esp pests or vermin) completely; annihilate; eliminate
Derived Formsexterminable, adjectiveextermination, nounexterminative or exterminatory, adjectiveexterminator, noun

Word Origin for exterminate

C16: from Latin extermināre to drive away, from terminus boundary
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

Word Origin and History for exterminate

1540s, "drive away," from Latin exterminatus, past participle of exterminare "drive out, expel, drive beyond boundaries," also, in Late Latin "destroy," from phrase ex termine "beyond the boundary," from ex- "out of" (see ex-) + termine, ablative of termen "boundary, limit, end" (see terminus).

Meaning "destroy utterly" is from 1640s in English, a sense found in equivalent words in French and in the Vulgate; earlier in this sense was extermine (mid-15c.). Related: Exterminated; exterminating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper