I wonder if in the following context I can substitue the bold sentence with the further sentence of mine:

In the 1980s, father-and-son scientists Luis and Walter Alvarez discovered in the geological record a distinct layer of iridium–an element found in abundance only in space that corresponds to the precise time the dinosaurs died. This suggests that a comet, asteroid or meteor impact event may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

I need to know if the substitution of the above and below sentences would change the meaning of the paragraph or something like its formality degree or not.

  • ...have extinguished the dinosaurs.

I need to use a single verb to convey this message and dictionaries confirm that the verb "extinguish" can serve it right, but I doubt whether it is common in modrn English or not.

P.S. I've read the similar page on the forum.

1 Answer 1


In current usage, to extinguish is used for fires, and extinct is used for species and volcanoes.

In the sense of volcanoes being no longer active or species no longer existing, the OED says of extinct (for this purpose): "in modern use it usually denotes a state without reference to the action from which this results."

So you have to say:

  • "... may have made the dinosaurs extinct", or
  • "... may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs" (as in your quote)

But for a fire you have to use the verb:

  • "The rain may have extinguished the fire"

A fire being extinct sounds antiquated.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .