May 26, 2016
- obliterate (verb)
- What does it mean?
- : to remove or destroy completely : wipe out
- How do you use it?
- "Since Tom's harassed conscience had managed to drive him to the lawyer's house by night and wring a dread tale from lips that had been sealed with the dismalest and most formidable of oaths, Huck's confidence in the human race was well-nigh obliterated." (Mark Twain, _The Adventures of Tom Sawyer_)
- Are you a word wiz?
There are many ways in which you might obliterate something, and we've given a few examples as our answers. One of them is the idea behind the meaning of the roots of "obliterate." Which one do you think it is?You're on the mark if you chose B! "Obliterate" came into English in the early 1600s meaning "to make obscure by wearing away, erase" and more broadly "to wipe out." This makes sense when you find out that the Latin words "ob-" and "littera" together mean literally "against the letter." ("Littera" means "letter" as in a letter of the alphabet.) "Littera" has given us a handful of other letter-related words, including "alliteration" ("the repetition of two or more initial consonant sounds in neighboring words or syllables"), "literal" (in Latin, "of a letter"), and, naturally, "letter."