Note: Our Sixth Annual 15-Second Vocabulary Video Challenge is underway. It will run until Feb. 20.
extirpate ˈek-stər-ˌpāt verb
1. destroy completely, as if down to the roots
2. pull up by or as if by the roots
3. surgically remove (an organ)
The word extirpate has appeared in nine articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on July 5 in “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf Scientist?” by Christopher Solomon:
In 1973, Congress passed the landmark Endangered Species Act. Within a few years, the gray wolf was listed as “endangered” throughout the West. Gray wolves were successfully reintroduced in the mid-1990s when the federal government relocated 31 wolves from Canada to Wyoming’s Yellowstone country and 35 to central Idaho. Since then, wolves have wandered across state lines to take up residence again in their former homes in Oregon and California.
Wherever the predators have arrived, blistering conflicts have followed. Shouting matches at public meetings. Threats to government officials. Dead livestock. Dead wolves. So in 2008, when biologists found that the first wolves had returned to Washington since the animals were extirpated there in the 1930s, officials pledged to learn from other states’ mistakes.