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Borrowed from Latin extinguo (to put out (what is burning), quench, extinguish, deprive of life, destroy, abolish), from ex (out) + stinguere (to put out, quench, extinguish). Doublet of extinct.


  • IPA(key): /ɪkˈstɪŋ.ɡwɪʃ/
  • (file)


extinguish (third-person singular simple present extinguishes, present participle extinguishing, simple past and past participle extinguished)

  1. (transitive)
    1. To stop (fire, etc.) from burning; also, to stop (light, etc.) from shining; to put out, to quench.
      Synonyms: douse, (obsolete) extinct
    2. (figurative) To eclipse or obscure (someone or something).
      A beauty that extinguishes all others by comparison
      The rays of the sun were extinguished by the thunder clouds.
    3. (figurative) To kill (someone).
      Synonym: (obsolete) extinct
    4. (figurative) To put an end to (something) completely; to annihilate, to destroy.
      Synonyms: (obsolete) extinct; see also Thesaurus:destroy
      She extinguished all my hopes.
      They intended to extinguish the enemy by force of numbers
      1. (psychology) To bring about the extinction of (a conditioned reflex).
        Many patients can extinguish their phobias after a few months of treatment.
    5. (figurative) To suppress (something, as feelings, a person's spirit, a state of affairs, etc.); to quench.
      Synonym: (obsolete) extinct
    6. (figurative, chiefly law) To abolish or make void (a law, a legal right, etc.); also, to cancel (a creditor's claim, a licence, etc.).
      Synonym: (obsolete) extinct
      • 1668 December 19, James Dalrymple, “Mr. Alexander Seaton contra Menzies” in The Deciſions of the Lords of Council & Seſſion I (Edinburgh, 1683), page 575:
        The Pupil after his Pupillarity, had granted a Diſcharge to one of the Co-tutors, which did extinguiſh the whole Debt of that Co-tutor, and conſequently of all the reſt, they being all correi debendi, lyable by one individual Obligation, which cannot be Diſcharged as to one, and ſtand as to all the reſt.
  2. (intransitive, reflexive) To die out.

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