Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 19, 2020 is:

eradicate • ih-RAD-uh-kayt  • verb

1 : to do away with as completely as if by pulling up by the roots

2 : to pull up by the roots


Widespread, global vaccination has been successful in eradicating smallpox.

“The golf-cart fleet is fully powered by lithium batteries, food and horticultural waste is processed into fertilizer for the course, and a simple edict that every agronomy worker must handpick 15 weeds daily before quittin’ time has all but eradicated the need for chemical treatments.” — Max Alder, The Golf Digest, 16 Dec. 2019

Did you know?

Given that eradicate first meant “to pull up by the roots,” it’s not surprising that the root of eradicate means, 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.

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