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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

Words of the day — expunge

Good evening Netizens...

February 27, 2013

Word of the Day

  • expunge
  • audio pronunciation
  • \ix-SPUNJ\


: to strike out, obliterate, or mark for deletion
: to efface completely : destroy
: to eliminate (as a memory) from one's consciousness

Time and the forces of nature have expunged any evidence that a thriving community once existed in that location.

"Eligible veterans can avoid jail time or get their charges expunged if they complete an intensive treatment and rehabilitation program." — From an article by Tracie Mauriello and Anya Sostek in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 22, 2012


In medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, a series of dots was used to mark mistakes or to label material that should be deleted from a text, and those deletion dots can help you remember the history of "expunge." They were known as "puncta delentia." The "puncta" part of the name derives from the Latin verb "pungere," which can be translated as "to prick or sting" (and you can imagine that a scribe may have felt stung when his mistakes were so punctuated in a manuscript). "Pungere" is also an ancestor of "expunge," as well as a parent of other dotted, pointed, or stinging terms such as "punctuate," "compunction," "poignant," "puncture," and "pungent."

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.