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.
June 25th, 2016
Episode 566 of 823 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 25, 2016 is: extirpate \EK-ster-payt\ verb 1 a : to destroy completely : wipe out b : to pull up by the root 2 : to cut out by surgery Examples: "The spread of piracy has been treated more as a nuisance to be endured rather than as a deadly cancer that must be extirpatedfor the sake of both Somalia and the rule of law." — Tara Helfman and Dan O'Shea, Commentary, February 2011 "Over the past decades, the reptiles have reclaimed much of the native range from which they'd been extirpated." — Shannon Tompkins, The Houston Chronicle, 12 May 2016 Did you know? If we do a little digging, we discover that extirpate finds its roots in, well, roots (and stumps). Early English uses of the word in the 16th century carried the meaning of "to clear of stumps" or "to pull something up by the root." Extirpate grew out of a combination of the Latin prefix ex- and the Latin noun stirps, meaning "trunk" or "root." The word stirp itself remains rooted in our own language as a term meaning "a line descending from a common ancestor."