an·​ni·​hi·​late | \ ə-ˈnī-ə-ˌlāt How to pronounce annihilate (audio) \
annihilated; annihilating

Definition of annihilate

transitive verb

1a : to cause to cease to exist : to do away with entirely so that nothing remains
b : to destroy a considerable part of Bombs annihilated the city. The enemy troops were annihilated.
c : to defeat overwhelmingly : rout annihilated the visitors 56–0
2a : to cause to be of no effect : nullify a right to freedom that cannot be annihilated
b : to destroy the substance or force of Fear can annihilate one's confidence.
3 : to regard as of no consequence
4 : to cause (something, such as a particle and its antiparticle) to vanish or cease to exist by coming together and changing into other forms of energy (such as photons) matter and antimatter annihilate each other

intransitive verb

of a particle and its antiparticle : to vanish or cease to exist by coming together and changing into other forms of energy (such as photons)

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Other Words from annihilate

annihilatory \ ə-​ˈnī-​ə-​lə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce annihilatory (audio) \ adjective

Examples of annihilate in a Sentence

The enemy troops were annihilated. He annihilated his opponent in the last election.
Recent Examples on the Web The one in which the Colts were annihilated by a Jaguars team that had lost six of its past seven games by an average margin of 21.5 points. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Offseason QB speculation will offer defense reprieve it didn't earn," 30 Dec. 2019 The 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as Task Force MacLean, an Army unit, was all but annihilated at the Chosin. Sig Christenson,, "San Antonio veteran, now 88, recalls one of the Marines’ hardest fights ever," 27 Dec. 2019 But the spill also annihilated scores of other species from the river—something neither Richard nor Agbalog had seen evidence of in recent times. Carrie Arnold, National Geographic, "A freshwater mussel apocalypse is underway—and no one knows why.," 16 Dec. 2019 The last time the Alabama played in a non-New Year's Six bowl, in early 2011, saw the Crimson Tide annihilate Michigan State 49-7. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Winners and losers from the final College Football Playoff rankings," 8 Dec. 2019 The few artists who have spoken out have seen their economic and performing prospects in mainland China annihilated overnight. Los Angeles Times, "A Cantopop star publicly supported Hong Kong protesters. So Beijing disappeared his music," 23 Sep. 2019 Almost nothing made Halas happier than when one of his players would annihilate an opposing quarterback on an interception return. Will Larkin,, "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 17, Stan Jones," 20 Aug. 2019 Bryce Harper stepped to the plate with the Phillies trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth and absolutely annihilated a walk-off grand slam. Emily Caron,, "Bryce Harper Demolishes Walk-Off Grand Slam to Cap Phillies' Comeback Over Cubs," 15 Aug. 2019 Fichte thought that Napoleon had done Germany a favor, because through him German selfishness had annihilated itself. Adrian Daub, Longreads, "All Hail the Rat King," 13 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'annihilate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of annihilate

1525, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

History and Etymology for annihilate

Late Latin annihilatus, past participle of annihilare to reduce to nothing, from Latin ad- + nihil nothing — more at nil

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Time Traveler for annihilate

Time Traveler

The first known use of annihilate was in 1525

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Statistics for annihilate

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Annihilate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for annihilate


How to pronounce annihilate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of annihilate

: to destroy (something or someone) completely
: to defeat (someone) completely


an·​ni·​hi·​late | \ ə-ˈnī-ə-ˌlāt How to pronounce annihilate (audio) \
annihilated; annihilating

Kids Definition of annihilate

: to destroy completely

Other Words from annihilate

annihilation \ -​ˌnī-​ə-​ˈlā-​shən \ noun

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Comments on annihilate

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


not to be intimidated or subdued

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