Definition of obliterate in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Destroy utterly; wipe out.

    ‘the memory was so painful that he obliterated it from his mind’
    • ‘He has seen his country crushed under the heel of a ‘liberating’ force which has destroyed its monasteries, killed its religious leaders, and done its best to obliterate its native culture.’
    • ‘Arriving at the outskirts of Brussels the merry band of travellers were aghast to discover that the entire city had been obliterated by a weapon of mass destruction.’
    • ‘During World War II, he served with the United States Air Corps ‘Statistical Control,’ where he helped determine the most efficient way to obliterate Japanese cities.’
    • ‘In this prophecy it talks about a key that will destroy and completely obliterate the world.’
    • ‘Alternatively, we could face oblivion tomorrow or have to wait 50,000 years before a city is obliterated or the world plunged into cosmic winter beneath a cloud of pulverized rock.’
    • ‘Every single one had to be vanquished, killed, destroyed, obliterated, and dead.’
    • ‘The tried and tested method of surrounding a city, obliterating whatever moves and razing villages to the ground is producing replicas under the cover of silence.’
    • ‘Their capes were vaporized instantly, and the resulting explosions obliterated the backs of their armor.’
    • ‘Today we do nothing but disseminate corruption in the world; we obliterate and destroy the world.’
    • ‘At the time he was addressing two recent disasters, an explosion that obliterated a whole area of the city of Enschede and a fire in a bar that killed and mutilated dozens of youths.’
    • ‘Over a quarter of the city was obliterated, with a dreadful irony removing it from the top of the list of A-bomb targets.’
    • ‘I want to strike back, pulverise, kill, obliterate anyone who has caused this harm to my city.’
    • ‘Withholding food and resources from fellow humans overseas and then obliterating their cities is no way to conduct the greatest country in the world.’
    • ‘It came to a choice between demonstrating the bomb, or obliterating an actual city.’
    • ‘When she'd watched her entire town be obliterated by explosives, in order to destroy an out of control infestation of vampires, so many thoughts and feelings had run through her mind.’
    • ‘Which city are they going to threaten to obliterate this time?’
    • ‘The city was obliterated, over 250,0000 people were killed and generations poisoned by radiation.’
    • ‘With their destroyer obliterated the pirates fled in all directions and then regrouped back together to resume their attack.’
    • ‘The planet is obliterated in the ensuing explosion.’
    • ‘Napalm was used widely against civilians, and most major cities were obliterated.’
    destroy, wipe out, annihilate, exterminate, extirpate, demolish, eliminate, eradicate, kill, decimate, liquidate, wipe off the face of the earth, wipe off the map
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Cause to become invisible or indistinct; blot out.
      ‘clouds were darkening, obliterating the sun’
      • ‘At first, the idea appeared incredible, yet defense counsel showed how the two cities could be confused if Zurich were approached from the angle it was and clouds obliterated any view of the lake.’
      • ‘One teacher remembers his early drawings as ‘scribbles’; others recall rudimentary figures obliterated by cross-hatching.’
      • ‘While executing their musical duties, the nine members obliterate their identities via different masks and matching uniforms and go by numbers rather than names, starting with #0.’
      • ‘The wind was still, the sky was black with the night and with the thick layer of storm clouds that obliterated the moon.’
      • ‘Light clouds or smoke over the target had obliterated Fisher's view for the second time and, true to his orders, he would not jeopardize the civilian population.’
      • ‘Across the Berkshire Downs heavy clouds obliterated the moon and unleashed a swirling hailstorm that lashed the dark bills and motorway with an icy deception.’
      • ‘The entire world of Grimus is engulfed in the closing pages by existentially obliterating mists.’
      • ‘He appeared to be looking down on an aggressive fire coming up around the edges of the earth, a runaway fire that obliterated his surroundings.’
      • ‘This terrifying shadowy swarm would obliterate the white light.’
      • ‘The outline of my pictures and other hanging pieces is faintly discernible on paint soon to be obliterated by a new shade.’
      • ‘On the bright side, the smoke has completely obliterated the sun, and we are no longer baking as if we were inside a giant oven.’
      • ‘In this series, vases float atop color fields, but here the vase is partly obliterated, as it is enveloped in smokelike, quivering strokes of black.’
      • ‘It is the ultimate human city, which likes to pretend it has obliterated nature under a blanket of asphalt.’
      • ‘The lumen of the vestibule could also be obliterated by overlapping undulations that originate from distinct regions in the vestibule.’
      • ‘Yet in the shadows of the black sky we didn't see the clouds whipping up over Laos, obliterating the stars, the moon.’
      • ‘Mean Mr Sun has decided to brightly pop in at just the moment he usually hits my screen - obliterating all view of what's on it.’
      • ‘The skies darkened and the heavens opened obliterating any view whatsoever within minutes of us setting off on our travels again!’
      • ‘Daz nodded, seeming to cheer up slightly - although only marginally, which was evident even in the blistering cold wind and misty clouds obliterating much of our surroundings.’
      • ‘She wears a cubical frame on her shoulders (the cage of the title), and it casts a thick black line of shadow that almost obliterates her eyes.’
      • ‘The drifting snow obliterated lesser landmarks and covered the boundaries of roads and ditches with a covering several feet thick, making normal travel nigh on impossible.’
      envelop, surround, swathe, enfold, cover, cover up, conceal, hide, secrete, camouflage, disguise, mask, screen, shield, cloak, blanket, shroud, enwrap, canopy, overlay
      View synonyms


Mid 16th century: from Latin obliterat- ‘struck out, erased’, from the verb obliterare, based on littera ‘letter, something written’.