Extricate vs extirpate

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Extricate and extirpate are two words that are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of the words extricate and extirpate, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Extricate means to remove someone or something from a hard position, to free someone from a difficulty. Extricate is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are extricates, extricated, extricating. The word extricate is derived from the Latin word extricatus, which means to disentangle.

Extirpate means to completely destroy, to absolutely eradicate. Extirpate is also a transitive verb, related words are extirpates, extirpated, extirpating. The word extirpate is derived from the Latin word extirpatus, meaning to pull up from the roots.


The slide carried Saracelli about 1,500 feet (457 meters) down the mountain and it took rescuers about 75 minutes to extricate the victim from the snow. (The Great Falls Tribune)

People who have the uncanny ability to extricate themselves from their politically partisan views in assessing the work and worth of political opponents are specially blessed and must feel a joyous fulfillment in their souls. (The Jamaica Observer)

The propagators of the foreign religious culture have always attempted to extirpate every effort of the indigenes to retain their traditions and ways of living. (The Guardian)

However, the powers that be are trying to extirpate that thirst for God, or subvert it, or distort it by the use of all possible means: the subversion of religion, music, literature; a constant bombardment of pornography and erotic speech in radio, television and the internet; the promotion of gender ideology in the education system; and the imposition of abortion. (The Catholic Herald)