"extinguish" 'make extinct'

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Mon Nov 24 15:15:32 UTC 2008

a while back, Mark Mandel suggested "extinguish" (rather than the
verbing "extinct") in this sense, and there seems to be some use in
scientific contexts:

   We are at the threshold of major extinctions. Many species in the
ocean have seen their population decline and eradicated. Populations
are in many cases incipient species, separated groups of animals that
produce by themselves. A species might consist of, say, ten
populations. In many cases, only the most productive, most abundant
population is left. All the smaller populations around the central
population are gone. And really to extinguish the species, you have to
extinguish only its last population. In many cases, we have reached
and are exploring that last population.  [Daniel Pauly, Director of
Fishery Center at U.B.C.]

   ... than anything else that so reduced the birds' numbers, although
it must have taken considerable habitat destruction to extinguish the
species finally. ...

   The Anopheles mosquitoes infect millions with malaria yet man fails
to extinguish the species. Maybe the environment is more stable than
we ...

   Only three of these turtles were known to exist, all in captivity
because the species was extinguished from overhunting and habitat

   The dodo is the most famous animal extinction in human history.
With its death came the realization that humans have the ability to
extinguish an entire species.

it looks like this usage is most common with the disappearing organism
referred to by the N "species" (in which case the examples strike me
as on the metaphorical side).  in contrast, i got no hits for
"extinguish the dodo", three for "extinguished the dodo", and one for
"dodo was extinguished".


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