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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.