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The destruction or cancellation of a right, a power, a contract, or an estate.

Extinguishment is sometimes confused with merger, though there is a clear distinction between them. Merger is only a mode of extinguishment, and applies to estates only under particular circumstances, but extinguishment is a term of general application to rights, as well as estates. Extinguishment connotes the end of a thing, precluding the existence of future life therein; in mergers there is a carrying on of the substance of the thing, except that it is merged into and becomes a part of a separate thing with a new identity.

Two ways in which the extinguishment of a debt can occur are by release or by payment. Extinguishment of legacy takes place where what has been bequeathed by will ceases to exist. Extinguishment of rent may take place by the tenant purchasing the rented property from the landlord or by grant, release, or surrender of the rental agreement.