Definition of extinguish in English:



[with object]
  • 1Cause (a fire or light) to cease to burn or shine.

    ‘firemen were soaking everything to extinguish the blaze’
    • ‘The fabric and wood fueled the flames while fire units worked to extinguish the blaze.’
    • ‘Members of the fire service arrived and extinguished the blaze.’
    • ‘By analogy, although oxygen does not cause a fire, it is impossible for fire to burn in its absence, so one extinguishes a blaze by dousing it with water or smothering it, to prevent oxygen from reaching it.’
    • ‘She would blow out all the candles, extinguish the fire and shiver in the cold.’
    • ‘There were some I saw who were steeped in phosphor: They were burning like torches and they jumped into the water to extinguish the fire.’
    • ‘Flames were extinguished quickly by the fire brigade, despite firefighters being initially thwarted by the lack of a hydrant on the private estate, and the low tide level of the Thames.’
    • ‘Luckily, the smoke detector automatically alerted the fire brigade who extinguished the blaze and moved the couple, and their pets, away from the house.’
    • ‘It took the entire Halon fire bottle to extinguish the flames.’
    • ‘More than 200 firefighters from Arlington, Va., and other nearby towns, extinguished a fire that burned for nearly three days.’
    • ‘Queues of traffic stretched back for miles following the accident as the fire service extinguished the blaze and police removed the wrecked cars.’
    • ‘Fire fighters managed to extinguish the blaze around 5pm.’
    • ‘Police ordered the picketers to stay on the sidewalk, set up wooden barricades to pen them in and told strikers to extinguish the fires in oil drums they lit to stay warm.’
    • ‘It gradually increased until the sensation felt as though I had swallowed fire and could not extinguish the flame.’
    • ‘Within seconds, the Fireguard recognized that the JFS could not blow out the fire and used the fire extinguisher to quickly extinguish the blaze.’
    • ‘We had a fire incident in late October in the early evening and the assistance we received from the public in extinguishing the flames using fire extinguishers at our building was gratifying.’
    • ‘Although it was two hours before the fire was extinguished, only one of the victims died of burns.’
    • ‘The fire is extinguished before it burns away the paper, leaving behind a dark residue.’
    • ‘I shrieked and jumped back, as he, laughing with amusement, murmured another set of words and a different ray of light extinguished the fire.’
    • ‘An automatic sprinkler system triggered by the fire eventually extinguished the blaze and prevented further damage.’
    • ‘After extinguishing the flames fire crews found Michelle and her sons.’
    douse, put out, quench, stamp out, smother, beat out, dampen down
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Put an end to; destroy.
      ‘hope is extinguished little by little’
      • ‘But it was the recurring nightmare of Adam Gilchrist which extinguished those hopes.’
      • ‘If Dundee went into the break with renewed hope, it was extinguished 10 minutes after the restart.’
      • ‘A country in which the martial virtues are extinguished cannot hope to be respected while the world remains a polyglot chaos of peoples.’
      • ‘North End's play-off hopes were all but extinguished by the only team doomed to relegation from the First Division so far - and a controversial handball.’
      • ‘Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said all efforts should be made to resolve the dispute until hope was extinguished entirely.’
      • ‘Any lingering hopes West had were extinguished virtually from the restart when Thomson slotted another penalty to effectively kill the game.’
      • ‘The others would be back any second, extinguishing any hope of me being able to relax.’
      • ‘When we destroy ecosystems and extinguish species, we degrade the greatest heritage this planet has to offer and thereby threaten our own existence.’
      • ‘How volatile might Turkey become if his hope of entry were extinguished?’
      • ‘She deliberately extinguished the light in her eyes, but it shone against her will in a barely noticeable smile.’
      • ‘Elected dictatorships, which extinguish opposition, destroy the political process too.’
      • ‘The little spark of hope within me promptly extinguished itself.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, the sudden and tragic death of John Lennon in 1980 extinguished any hope of the Beatles reforming.’
      • ‘When that hope is extinguished, it's like the roof being blown off the house.’
      • ‘But late on Friday night that last flicker of hope was extinguished by two policemen who broke the news that a body had been found in the river and dental records confirmed it was Glynn.’
      • ‘I'd never have explored the Tamil area, or written about their civilisation now destroyed, extinguished.’
      • ‘But why then are so many women extinguished by the perpetrators?’
      • ‘Upon extinguishing her last hope, she shuddered with pain, either inside or out, and rose shakily to her feet.’
      • ‘Having given himself a sniff of a chance, however, the Canadian left-hander extinguished his hopes with bogeys at the following two holes.’
      • ‘After all, poverty, disease and ignorance kill many more people each year than terrorists, and do much more to cause suffering and extinguish hope.’
      destroy, end, finish off, put an end to, put a stop to, bring to an end, terminate, remove, annihilate, wipe out, wipe off the face of the earth, wipe off the map, erase, eliminate, eradicate, obliterate, liquidate, expunge, abolish, exterminate, kill, extirpate, obscure, suppress, disrupt, undo, upset
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Subdue or reduce (someone) to silence.
      ‘a look which would have extinguished any man’
      • ‘The shouting of her husband and daughter is extinguished.’
      • ‘I drove the sword into his chest, extinguishing him for good.’
      • ‘Nor is it really in scientists' interests to extinguish people's fears, since it is the fears that will win them funding.’
      • ‘They tried to kill me, to extinguish me completely, but I have only lost an arm.’
    3. 1.3 Cancel (a debt) by full payment.
      ‘the debt was absolutely extinguished’
      • ‘If credit was given for both these sums, the debt to the government would be extinguished.’
      • ‘I accept that there may be situations in which if a creditor unconditionally assigns the benefit of a debt to a debtor, he will thereby extinguish the debt.’
      • ‘The debts were automatically extinguished by collection and their proceeds never became subject to a fixed charge.’
      • ‘Your final payment extinguishes your debt and you are mortgage-free - guaranteed.’
      • ‘However, the fact that the debt cannot be enforced by action does not mean that the debt is extinguished.’
    4. 1.4Law Render (a right or obligation) void.
      ‘rights of common pasture were extinguished’
      • ‘Accordingly, in our view the flooding of the land did not extinguish native title.’
      • ‘Most periods of limitation do not extinguish the claimant's right but merely bar his remedy.’
      • ‘This legislation overturns the rule of law and it extinguishes the property rights of our people.’
      • ‘Their property rights are extinguished by this legislation.’
      • ‘But it extinguishes an obligation, and if the rule is valid and can apply it then imposes an obligation in the same terms on the defendant.’


Mid 16th century: from Latin exstinguere, from ex- ‘out’ + stinguere ‘quench’. Compare with distinguish.