Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun ru·in \ˈrü-ən, -ˌin; ˈrün\

Simple Definition of ruin

  • : a state of complete destruction : a state of being ruined

  • : the remaining pieces of something that was destroyed

  • : the state of having lost money, social status, etc.

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of ruin

  1. 1 a archaic :  a falling down :  collapse <from age to age … the crash of ruin fitfully resounds — William Wordsworth> b :  physical, moral, economic, or social collapse

  2. 2 a :  the state of being ruined —archaic except in plural <the city lay in ruins> b :  the remains of something destroyed —usually used in plural <the ruins of an ancient temple> <the ruins of his life>

  3. 3 :  a cause of destruction

  4. 4 a :  the action of destroying, laying waste, or wrecking b :  damage, injury

  5. 5 :  a ruined building, person, or object

ruinate play \ˈrü-ə-ˌnāt, -nət\ adjective
ruinate \-ˌnāt\ transitive verb

Examples of ruin in a sentence

  1. The incident led to the ruin of their relationship.

  2. The abandoned town had gone to ruin.

  3. Don't let the house your grandfather built fall into ruin.

  4. The castle is now a ruin.

  5. The drought brought economic ruin to local farmers.

  6. Her drug addiction brought her to the brink of ruin.

Origin of ruin

Middle English ruine, from Anglo-French, from Latin ruina, from ruere to rush headlong, fall, collapse

First Known Use: 12th century



verb ru·in

Simple Definition of ruin

  • : to damage (something) so badly that it is no longer useful, valuable, enjoyable, etc. : to spoil or destroy (something)

  • : to cause (someone) to lose money, social status, etc.

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of ruin

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to reduce to ruins :  devastate

  3. 2 a :  to damage irreparably b :  bankrupt, impoverish <ruined by stock speculation>

  4. 3 :  to subject to frustration, failure, or disaster <will ruin your chances of promotion>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to become ruined

ruiner noun

Examples of ruin in a sentence

  1. The bad weather ruined the party.

  2. I ruined the sauce by adding too much garlic.

  3. His low test scores ruined his chances of getting into a good school.

  4. Poor customer service ruined the company's reputation.

  5. He was ruined by debt.

  6. The scandal ruined the mayor.


First Known Use of ruin


RUIN Defined for Kids



verb ru·in \ˈrü-ən\

Definition of ruin for Students


  1. 1 :  to reduce to wreckage <a ruined city>

  2. 2 :  to damage beyond repair <… “she's … ruined every scrap of clothes she owns.” — Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved>

  3. 3 :  to have a very bad effect on the quality of (something) <Losing my wallet ruined the trip.>

  4. 4 :  2bankrupt



noun ru·in

Definition of ruin for Students

  1. 1 :  complete collapse or destruction

  2. 2 ruins plural :  the remains of something destroyed <the ruins of an ancient city>

  3. 3 :  the situation in which someone experiences loss of money, social status, or position <They were on the brink of financial ruin.>

in ruins
  1. :  nearly or completely destroyed <Her reputation was in ruins … — Richard Peck, A Year Down Yonder>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up ruin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


expressing little or no emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.