Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
February 10th, 2015
Episode 103 of 717 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 10, 2015 is: eradicate \ih-RAD-uh-kayt\ verb 1 : to pull up by the roots 2 : to do away with as completely as if by pulling up by the roots Examples: The new mayor promised that his term in office would be devoted to reducing crime and eradicating homelessness throughout the city. "Countdown to Zero will show visitors how eradication efforts have broken devastating disease cycles. The successful fight against smallpox, led by intensive vaccination efforts, was followed by the vaccination campaign to eradicate polio, underway since 1988." NJToday.com, January 6, 2015 Did you know? Given that eradicate first meant "to pull up by the roots," it's not surprising that the root of eradicate is, in fact, "root." Eradicate, which first turned up in English in the 16th century, comes from eradicatus, the past participle of the Latin verb eradicare. Eradicare, in turn, can be traced back to the Latin word radix, meaning "root" or "radish." Although eradicate began life as a word for literal uprooting, by the mid-17th century it had developed a metaphorical application to removing things the way one might yank an undesirable weed up by the roots. Other descendants of radix in English include radical and radish. Even the word root itself is related; it comes from the same ancient word that gave Latin radix.