Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To pull up by the roots.
  • transitive v. To destroy totally; exterminate. See Synonyms at abolish.
  • transitive v. To remove by surgery.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To clear an area of roots and stumps.
  • v. To pull up by the roots; uproot.
  • v. To destroy completely; to annihilate.
  • v. To surgically remove.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To pluck up by the stem or root; to root out; to eradicate, literally or figuratively; to destroy wholly

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To pull up by the roots; root out; eradicate; get rid of; expel; destroy totally: as, to extirpate weeds or noxious plants from a field; to extirpate cancer or a tumor; to extirpate a sect; to extirpate error or heresy.
  • Synonyms To uproot, exterminate, abolish, annihilate.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. destroy completely, as if down to the roots
  • v. surgically remove (an organ)
  • v. pull up by or as if by the roots

Etymologies

Latin exstirpāre, exstirpāt- : ex-, ex- + stirps, root.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin exstirpō ("uproot"), from ex- ("out of") + stirps ("the lower part of the trunk of a tree, including the roots; the stem, stalk") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The English colonists were thus fulfilling their responsibility to protect as they proceeded to "extirpate" and "exterminate" the natives, in their words -- and for their own good, their honored successors explained.

    MRZine.org

  • And the single best example of that external control was the attempt to limit – and implicitly, extirpate – chattel slavery.

    Matthew Yglesias » Politics and Investment Bias

  • Alma's mission is to extirpate the black rats and other non-native species that are overrunning the islands, and Dave is bent on stopping the slaughter.

    First the Settlers, Then the Settled

  • Perhaps some truly believe society must be arranged to extirpate any sign of differences between groups.

    Racism Is Everywhere . . . Statistically

  • Indeed, Jefferson's writings on Indians are filled with the straightforward assertion that the natives are to be given a simple choice - to be "extirpate [d] from the earth" or to remove themselves out of the Americans 'way.

    New World Apocalypse, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • The many weeds in the lawn revealed a deep personality difference: Dad, as an impatient mechanical engineer, liked the instant solution of digging them up one by one from close enough to extirpate all the roots.

    Roger Y. Tsien - Autobiography

  • He was pleased that God had promoted the true faith “so honorably” and that the French monarchy had been able to “extirpate the poisonous roots with such prudence.”

    Bloodlust

  • Well, it seems that lobbies have been able to extirpate themselves from this embarrassing regulation.

    Valerie Orsoni: Too Much Calorie Info Will Fatten America Up

  • He had to go because he represented a strain of prejudice that has infected his party for decades, despite the best efforts of decent Republicans to extirpate it.

    Motive Does Matter

  • Then it announced that it had had it all along – this was the moment when Ratzinger decided he must extirpate child abuse from the church.

    The secret secret of the Vatican

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  • "At the same time white settlements were growing, of fascinatingly different character, from Canada with its fractious French, to Australia and its origins as a huge prison camp, to the model colony of New Zealand with its sturdy free farmers. In each case, the creation of what would one day be prosperous liberal democracies involved the expropriation and sometimes the extirpation of the indigenous inhabitants, a process openly welcomed by some intelligent and supposedly enlightened Englishmen in the name of progress."

    – Geoffrey Wheatcroft, "Little Britain" (review of The Decline and Fall of the British Empire 1781–1997, by Piers Brendon), New York Times (21 Nov 2008).

    November 22, 2008