Definition of extinction in English:



  • 1The state or process of being or becoming extinct:

    ‘the extinction of the great auk’
    [count noun] ‘mass extinctions’
    • ‘Globally, diversity naturally has increased over time, though the great mass extinctions have decreased it for a while.’
    • ‘Each event includes one or more datum points when extinctions and other biotic changes took place.’
    • ‘There have been five major mass extinctions and more than 20 minor mass extinctions.’
    • ‘We're facing critical mass extinctions across a whole variety of ecosystems once the two degree level has been crossed, from coral reefs to rainforests.’
    • ‘But how do mass extinctions perturb these systems in the first place?’
    • ‘We have more difficulty with the concept of mass extinctions.’
    • ‘Note that several Cambrian and early Ordovician mass extinctions are not shown here.’
    • ‘Are we headed for mass extinctions for animal, bird and plant life?’
    • ‘Some explanations for extinctions and evolution include strikes by asteroids or comets.’
    • ‘Regardless of the variables he plugged in, the presence of human hunters triggered mass extinctions.’
    • ‘Prominent biologists say we're on par with the five previous mass extinctions in the history of life on earth.’
    • ‘There have been at least five mass extinctions till now, all by natural forces.’
    • ‘During these ice ages, the decrease in global temperature led to mass extinctions.’
    • ‘Unlike previous mass extinctions this current episode is due to the disruptive activities of just one species, man.’
    • ‘Global mass extinctions are usually explained by one or more physico-chemical causes.’
    • ‘Scientists are sharply divided over what caused the extinction.’
    • ‘The result will be a series of mass extinctions and a dramatic fall in the planet's biodiversity, as well as its ability to support humankind.’
    • ‘He downplayed the importance of developmental constraints, of mass extinctions, and species selection.’
    • ‘Marine fossil evidence tells of numerous extinctions, global mass extinction, and geochemical events.’
    • ‘I recall hearing some scientist mention that mass extinctions seem to occur in very ordered cycles.’
    dying out, disappearance, vanishing, death
    extermination, destruction, elimination, eradication, annihilation
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The wiping out of a debt:
      ‘a private debt extinction fund’
      • ‘The policy of Immediate debt extinction was initiated by Gallalin.’
      • ‘The principle of automatic extinction of the claim/debt on confusion has adverse consequences in the capital markets.’
      elimination, removal, suppression
      View synonyms
  • 2Physics
    Reduction to zero in the intensity of light or other radiation as it passes through a medium, due to absorption, reflection, or scattering:

    ‘ultraviolet extinction’
    • ‘The pattern of turnover within a stage is important for understanding the mechanisms of radiation and extinction.’
    • ‘It is evident from this figure that with increasing (leaf angle) the light extinction in the leaf community decreases.’
    • ‘In addition, it may be due to possible variation in the light extinction coefficient between seasons or during the crop growth period.’
    • ‘Will improved classification schemes allow better understanding of extinction and radiation events?’
    • ‘The concentration was employed to transform the experimentally obtained absorption into extinction coefficient spectra.’


Late Middle English: from Latin exstinctio(n-), from exstinguere quench (see extinguish).