tr.v. e·rased, e·ras·ing, e·ras·es
a. To remove (something written, for example) by rubbing, wiping, or scraping.
b. To remove (recorded material) from a magnetic tape or other storage medium: erased a file from the hard drive.
c. To remove recorded material from (a magnetic tape or disk, for example): erased the DVD.
2. To remove all traces of; eliminate or obliterate: had to erase all thoughts of failure from his mind.
[Latin ērādere, ērās-, to scratch out : ē-, ex-, ex- + rādere, to scrape; see rēd- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: erase, expunge, delete, cancel
These verbs mean to remove or invalidate something, especially something stored, recorded, or written down. To erase is to wipe or rub out, literally or figuratively: erased the word from the blackboard; erased any hope of success.
Expunge implies thorough removal: a performance that expunged doubts about his ability.
To delete is to remove matter from a manuscript or data from a computer application: deleted expletives from the transcript; deleted the file with one keystroke.
Cancel refers to invalidating by or as if by drawing lines through something written: canceled the postage stamp; canceled the reservation.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.