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1. To seek out and find something after close inspection or thorough investigation. A noun or pronoun can be used between "root" and "out." Unfortunately, we had to look through each file in the system to root out the true problem.
2. To find something at its source and incapacitate or destroy it. A noun or pronoun can be used between "root" and "out." It turns out that the exterminator didn't root the termites out completely the first time. The new mayor has vowed to root out street crime.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
root something out
to get rid of something completely; to destroy something to its roots or core. No government will ever root out crime completely. The principal wants to root out troublemakers at the local school.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Search for, seek to discover, as in He was trying to root out the reason for her long absence. This idiom alludes to the way hogs dig by using their snouts. [Mid-1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To uncover or expose the source of something: The government agents rooted out the source of the drug money. The mayor hated corruption and vowed to root it out.
2. To incapacitate or destroy something at its source: The exterminator was unable to root out the last few mice from the kitchen. The gophers are making a mess of the lawn—we need to root them out!
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.