early 15c., "annihilation," from Latin extinctionem/exstinctionem (nominative extinctio/exstinctio) "extinction, annihilation," noun of action from past-participle stem of extinguere/exstinguere "quench, wipe out" (see extinguish). Originally of fires, lights; figurative use, the wiping out of a material thing (a debt, a person, a family, etc.) from early 17c.; of species by 1784.
updated on January 30, 2022