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I am a bit confused, how can I use these three words differently when their meaning is almost the same?

  • Extirpation
  • Perdition
  • Smash
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3  
I don't think this is a meaningful question at all. Anyone who thinks these words are "almost same" would be well advised to simply avoid using the first two completely. –  FumbleFingers Mar 25 '11 at 22:26
    
Why do you think that this is a meaningful question ?I posted it here after searching on google , and google shows the same meaning for these words. –  Akshay Thakur Mar 28 '11 at 5:45
3  
My apologies if I seem unduly dismissive. But I just Googled define xxxx for each, and nothing in each first page of results mentioned either of the other two words. I've no doubt that if I looked them all up in a single dictionary (online or printed), I wouldn't find much similarity in the definitions. And I think this site is more about seeking subtle differences in meaning and usage that might not easily be discovered by consulting a dictionary. In this case I stand by my original advice that you should simply avoid the first two at this stage. –  FumbleFingers Mar 28 '11 at 12:25

4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

The meanings are certainly not the same, nor even “almost” the same. perdition is the most peculiar of the three, meaning “damnation”, “hell” or “doom”. It is a name, with no corresponding verb.

Extirpate is a verb, completely synonymous with eradicate; it implies complete destruction.

Smash, like demolish, implies complete wreckage, breaking into pieces, shattering (in addition to demolish, smash has the idea of violence).


Regarding usage, smash is very widely used, though not specifically informal. The Corpus of Contemporary American English has 1972 hits, while it has 168 for perdition (mainly in fiction and in academic theological works) and 59 for extirpate.

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6  
Also, you don't hear “The building at Fifth and Elm was smashed by the earthquake.” Usually little things get smashed, like birds’ nests, china dishes, bifocals, and sensitive electronic equipment. They are smashed by larger, heavier things. To me, smash doesn't quite imply complete wreckage, just enough that the object is pretty much ruined. –  Jason Orendorff Mar 18 '11 at 14:48
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I'd also say that the words are used in rather different contexts. 'Smash' is rather colloquial and will be used on the street. You'll hear 'perdition' (which I translate as 'loss') used mostly in a religious context. And you'll rarely hear 'extirpate' at all. It's a fine word, but rare enough that it might not be understood by many audiences. –  JCooper Mar 22 '11 at 16:17
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Smash does not imply complete wreckage. I can smash my fist into the table but neither are destroyed in the process. It just hurts a lot. Smash, in my opinion, can be described as the violent collision of two or more objects. When I smash a table apart I am often using another object to do so (such as a floor, the wall or a sledgehammer.) If I tore the parts of a table asunder it would hardly qualify as "smashing" the table. –  MrHen Mar 22 '11 at 16:19
    
'Smash' also has a positive context, as in "That record was a smash hit." –  oosterwal Mar 24 '11 at 4:32

Extirpation (as answered by) many comes from the verb extripate meaning root out completely. The synonym closest is to eradicate. In fact the root of the word extirpate is sometimes said to come from eradicate itself. Extirpate is usually associated with social ills: extirpate untouchability, extirpate anti-semitism, extirpate plague, etc.

Smash has got more to do with collision, like two cars smashed, etc. It may not result in eradication of the two cars.

Perdition comes from a root meaning destruction. The closest meaning would be Hell. You can say the road to perdition, suffer in perdition, etc.

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Extirpation is a form of the verb "to extirpate". It literally means "to uproot" and is usually used to express removing all traces of something. E.g. "extirpate all mentions of the executed officials name from the textbooks".

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These words have very little in common.

Perdition comes from the Latin word for "lost" and usually means "hell".

Extirpation is a form of the verb "to extirpate". It literally means "to uproot" and is usually used to express removing all traces of something. E.g. "extirpate all mentions of the executed officials name from the textbooks".

Smash simply means to break something into little pieces.

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