Is there (modern) verb meaning "to cause to become extinct" please? The desired word would have the same root as "extinct".

The closest I could find etymologically was "extinguish", but its usage is archaic according to this link and, to me, it sounds like more of a synonym than a word with the same root.

As an example:

Humans have accidentally (extinct(v)(past tense)) at least x species in the past 5 years.

To clarify, I am aware of plenty of words that can fill the gap. I was specifically looking for a "real" equivalent to "extinct-ify"

  • 13
    Extinguish is the related verb: extinct (adj.) early 15c., "extinguished, quenched," from Latin extinctus/exstinctus, past participle of extinguere/exstinguere "to put out, quench; go out, die out; kill, destroy" *(see extinguish). Originally of fires; in reference to the condition of a family or a hereditary title that has "died out," from 1580s; of species by 1768. Shakespeare uses it as a verb. Compare extinction. etymonline.com/…
    – user66974
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 14:29
  • Worth mentioning that extinct and extinguish cannot be synonyms because one is a noun and one is a verb, therefore they have entirely different definitions and usage.
    – mfoy_
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 14:45
  • 2
    There isn't a single word verb. You say "cause the extinction of" or "cause one's extinction". You can use "lead to" instead of "cause" also.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 15:56
  • 5
    To drive [a species] to extinction is frequently used. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 16:11
  • 2
    It's not a single word, but I would use render extinct in this context: "Humans have accidentally rendered at least x species extinct in the past 5 years."
    – psmears
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 19:25

13 Answers 13


As as direct answer to the question, no. Not in a modern way.

I know you're asking for a specific word, but I feel the only way to maintain the correct context and meaning would be to rephrase the whole sentence:

At least x species in the past 5 years have become extinct accidentally by human activity .

Any other way would look unusual in my opinion.

edit to add based on comments

We should probably put accidentally before extinct.

At least x species in the past 5 years have become accidentally extinct by human activity.

  • 2
    This is one of the only answers that actually reads the question properly. I didn't want just a list of words that fit the gap, and "no, there isn't" is a perfectly valid answer. Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 7:18
  • 2
    "accidentally made extinct"? Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 9:03
  • That looks unusual anyway. Correct, but still unusual.
    – trysis
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 21:49
  • 2
    I would write something more like "have unintentionally/accidentally been made extinct by humans..."
    – anon
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 23:35
  • I would prefer to make it clear whether or not you assert that the human activity was in the last 5 years. (Clearly the extinctions were that recent, but are you counting recent extinctions caused by activity from longer ago?) If you are, then "At least x species have accidentally been made extinct by human activity in the past 5 years"; if not, then "In the past 5 years, at least x species have accidentally been made extinct by human activity". Or "...accidentally become extinct because of...".
    – Rosie F
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 8:03

The biological term for a local extinction is extirpation, which does have a past-verb form, extirpated. You can totally say:

Humans have accidentally extirpated at least x species in the past 5 years

As a biologist, I would add "... species from this planet", because otherwise I'm wondering which local area you are referring to.


"Extinguish" is the obvious answer in terms of sharing the same root, but I don't think it holds true in common usage. No one would say, "We extinguished the passenger pigeon." "Exterminate" and "eradicate" are closer, though not perfect.

  • 2
    Exterminate is what Daleks do. :)
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 7:45
  • 1
    And Daleks do not accidentally exterminate! Extermination and exterminating is their raison d'être
    – RemarkLima
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 19:06

The verb eradicate could work very well in this context. But it admittedly does not come from the same root as extinct.

  • 2
    It's used regularly to describe intentionally causing viruses to become extinct.
    – Compro01
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 14:33
  • 3
    I think eradicate suits quite well. 'Humans accidentally eradicated the yellow-bellied hippo-squirrel population through overfishing their feeding grounds'.
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 3:29

Extinct (v.) has existed (obsolete). So the answer is, "no not at the moment." English is not constrained by an official form so dictionaries follow usage and create educational standards. Extinct (v) could become proper again simply by being used enough or published by someone reputable enough. Still, most high school students will only encounter it in Henry VIII or Othello. I rather like extincted.

Questions of "does this word exist" always give me a pause, because it's rather a bit like putting the cart before the horse. :)

(if any are curious about how it was used I've included the bulk of the OED entry for the obsolete form).

From the definitive source (OED retrieved 6/19/2015) :

1. trans. = extinguish v. 1.

1483 Caxton tr. J. de Voragine Golden Legende 250/1 The blessid laurence had fyue brennynges withoute forthe whiche he al ouercam manly and extyncte them.

a1513 H. Bradshaw Lyfe St. Werburge (1521) ii. 166 The feruent great fire extincted was in-dede.

1570 J. Foxe Actes & Monumentes (rev. ed.) I. 105/1 Eugenia..was..put into hoate bathes, which were extincted, and she preserued.

2. = extinguish v. 2.

1542 A. Borde Compend. Regyment Helth xx. sig. K.i, Purslane dothe extynct the ardor of lassyuyousnes.

?1555 Coverdale tr. Hope of Faythful Pref. f. iiiiv, Not to stir vp gods grace in vs..wer to..extinct the spirite.

1556 J. Heywood Spider & Flie vii. 39 It is more hard, loue to our selues to extinkt.

3 a. = extinguish v. 3.

1484 Caxton tr. G. de la Tour-Landry Bk. Knight of Tower (1971) ix. 22 The grete good dedes and abstynence that I dyde quenchyd and estyncted al my synnes.

1547 in E. Cardwell Documentary Ann. Church Eng. (1839) I. 42 They have..utterly extincted and destroyed..all images.

a1552 J. Leland Itinerary (1712) VIII. 14 The Name of the Barony of Say is extinctid.

1598 F. Meres Palladis Tamia f. 287v, One straine of Musicke extincts the pleasure of another.

1603 H. Crosse Vertues Common-wealth sig. E4, Two contraries, cannot ioyntly hold possession, but one will vtterly extinct the other.

3 b. To put an end to, make void (a law, legal right, status, ordinance). Also, to cancel (a licence, the claim of a creditor). Cf. extinguish v. 3b.

3 c. To abolish, suppress (a state of things, custom, institution).

1531–2 Act 23 Hen. VIII c. 20 To extinct and make frustrate the paymentys of the said Annates or first fruytes.

1540 Act 32 Hen. VIII c. 22 §3 Many chanteries..ben sins yt time vtterly dissolued and extincted.

3 d ...

3 e ...

Derivatives: exˈtincted adj.

a1616 Shakespeare Othello (1622) ii. i. 82 He may..Giue renewd fire, To our extincted spirits.

exˈtincting n.

1513 King Henry VIII Let. in J. Strype Eccl. Mem. I. App. i. 3 Wee..have, for the extincting of the detestable Schisme..entred actual war.

1631 J. Weever Anc. Funerall Monuments 113 For the..vtter extincting of..power and authoritie.

  • 1
    OED gives "extinct" as an obsolete verb and it was not used in the sense of what OP is asking. OP is asking for a modern verb.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 16:18
  • Fair enough. Edited to make that point. Sometimes I rush to answer the question in the title without seeing the conditions given below. So to the title question the answer is "yes," and to the question beneath it, the answer is "only if you can get something published with it, otherwise, not right now."
    – Rob_vH
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 16:24
  • Completely unrelated to the question, but lassyuyousnes is just about the coolest word ever. (It’s lasciviousness, in case anyone got lost in the sea of vowels.) Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 17:10
  • 3
    Re: "extincted": Pfft. Swim, swam, swum, sing, sang, sung, sink, sank, sunk, extinct, extanct, extunct. :-)
    – ruakh
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 0:51
  • 1
    I've seen "extinct" as a verb as late as 2014 (yes last year).
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 4:55

Extinguish (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/extinguish)


From Latin extinguo, past participle extinctus (“to put out (what is burning), quench, extinguish, deprive of life, destroy, abolish”), from ex (“out”) + stinguere (“to put out, quench, extinguish”).

Compared to: Extinct (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/extinct)


Recorded since 1432; from Latin extinctus, the past participle of extinguere (“to put out, destroy, abolish, extinguish”), corresponding to ex- + stinguere (“to quench”)

Even though it would be a little awkward to say "I will extinguish your species" the etymology matches closely enough and the meaning is clear.


If you mean something form the point of view of whatever gets extinct, I'd suggest die out, as in species XPTO is under threat of dying out if certain decisions aren't made.

  • 6
    And from the point of view of the cause of the extinction, wipe out. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 17:11
  • Also killed off.
    – user1359
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 17:55
  • Stamp out, as well.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 21:55

I've seen "made extinct" used in textbooks and writing. IE. "Humans have accidentally made extinct at least x species in the past 5 years." or "Humans will accidentally make extinct at least x species in the next 5 years."


What about extirpate? "To remove or destroy totally". Still not the same root as extinct, but commonly used with regard to threatened and endangered species.

  • 3
    That is already an answer. It's a good word, but the same as most of the other answers, it doesn't answer the question. In this case 'no' is the answer. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:45

A behaviorist says extinguish when talking about putting a behavior that has been put on extinction.

  • 1
    Who? Can you explain where you saw or heard this?
    – herisson
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 19:38

I would coin “extinctual” for an adjective describing that which causes extinction. Our fossil fuel use is extinctual.

We clearly need such a word and lacking such a word we should coin one. “Extinctify” strikes me as clumsy and is not an adjective, but a verb. “Extinctificatory” is even more clumsy.

  • They're after a word that exists already, I think. Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 16:49
  • Thanks for your answer Eliot and welcome to ELU. Your answer however is lacking a few things. My question asks for a verb, and specifically asks for the "real" equivalent of a verb I coined to convey what I was looking for. This answer is a little away from the mark in that you've started introducing adjectives though your answer is stronger than some others in that it focuses on the etymology rather than just plugging the gap. Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 6:28
  • And I might suggest "exctincting" as an adjective to mean "a phenomenon which causes extinction" – The (P–Tr) event was the most extincting in planetary history Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 6:36

In Webster's 9th New Collegiate Dictionary,they give extinct as verb transitive. Page number is 440.

  • 1
    M-W also gives that entry. It is labelled archaic which means that nobody would recognize that usage nowadays.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 20:00

The answer is “exterminate” as you can see below. enter image description here

  • 1
    I'm afraid this doesn't answer the question. My question asks for a word of the same root, not just a word that fits the gap. Extinct has its roots in the Latin word extinguere - extinguish whereas exterminate has roots in ex-terminus meaning "to put outside of the boundary" Commented May 9, 2019 at 9:54
  • 1
    To kill someone or something (exterminate) does not mean the same as to die out (to be extinct). And an answer consisting only a massive screenshot, which is how it appears on a desktop computer, is not helpful to users who use screen readers.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 10:52
  • Well, pardon me then. Commented May 22, 2019 at 2:36

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.