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verb (used with object), ex·ter·mi·nat·ed, ex·ter·mi·nat·ing.
  1. to get rid of by destroying; destroy totally; extirpate: to exterminate an enemy; to exterminate insects.
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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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for extermination


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

Word Origin

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 extermination


mid-15c., "repulsion;" 1540s, "utter destruction," from Middle French extermination and directly from Latin exterminationem (nominative exterminatio), noun of action from past participle stem of exterminare (see exterminate).

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper