I am puzzled about the word choice, namely the verb "to eliminate". Can we say that the person eliminated documents or an electronic database because they were of no use anymore or outdated.

If no, which word is natural to native English speakers in this context?

  • 2
    There's nothing exactly "wrong" with eliminate in such contexts, but arguably it's a bit "strong". You might want to consider discarded, or more informally, did away with. Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 15:28
  • @FumbleFingers This question may already have an answer here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/203942/…
    – Centaurus
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 16:50

4 Answers 4


It's far more common to say 'Delete' for digital data. You might also 'wipe a hard-drive'.
Physical documents are shredded or destroyed.
A more common use for 'Eliminate' is in the removal of a problem, threat, risk or danger.

The threat posed by those documents has been eliminated.
In order to eliminate any risk of explosion, please do not smoke near the fireworks.
Our efforts to eliminate the possibility of flooding were in vain.


What about "erase"/delete.

Eliminate has as@FumbleFingers pointed "strong" overtones.

He desperately wants to eliminate what he sees as the only threat to his activities.
  • You can remove documents and other items stored in iCloud by deleting them from any of your devices that have iCloud set up for Documents & Data.
  • To make sure a file is truly gone, a number of tools are available. ... Whenever you want to securely erase your data, follow these steps....

to get rid of something.

You rid yourself of something that is no longer useful, and you want out of the way. These can be documents, magazines, books, clothes, anything that clutters your home or office.

My boss asked me to get rid of these documents
I have to get rid of these papers one day.

You can also get rid of boyfriends, husbands and wives too. (By booting them out of your home/life)

A more formal alternative is dispose of

If you dispose of something that you no longer want or need, you throw it away or give it to someone.

Hundreds of used computers had to be disposed of.
This is the safest means of disposing of nuclear waste.

  • 1
    If he had to be one or the other, I'm sure the average boyfriend would rather be gotten rid of rather than eliminated. Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 17:53

to remove sounds fine as well. It is very often used in computer sciences.

The person remover documents or an electronic database because they were of no use anymore or outdated.

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