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 annihilate (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 Ahead of the debate, liberals and Trump opponents cheered the idea that Harris would annihilate her rival on live television. Jenny Singer, Glamour, "Kamala Harris Is a World-Class Debater. Of Course Men Called Her an ‘Insufferable Bitch’," 8 Oct. 2020 Softened by warming and acidifying waters, the coral-like structures have succumbed to the urchins, which can annihilate years of fragile algae in a single bite. Katherine J. Wu New York Times, Star Tribune, "When the otters vanished, everything else started to crumble," 17 Sep. 2020 Warning: the video contains a very alarmed man using NSFW language as the fruits of his hubris annihilate a nearby home. Dan Carson, Houston Chronicle, "'OH GOD D----T!': Would-be lumberjack chops tree down directly onto house," 15 Sep. 2020 Within a fraction of a microsecond, the electron and the positron collide and annihilate each other in a flash of gamma rays. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Tantalizing oddity found in exotic atom—but physicists aren’t hyping it," 25 Aug. 2020 Years later, El Greco does annihilate three-dimensional space in his paintings, and some have said his experience with icons, with gold backgrounds and flat figures, invited this. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "El Greco Sizzles in Chicago, in Paris, Not So Much," 15 Aug. 2020 In short, fashion seemed to slowly annihilate itself. Irina Aleksander, New York Times, "Sweatpants Forever," 6 Aug. 2020 Activists fear that a single infection could annihilate that indigenous community. Bruno Kelley, National Geographic, "Disaster looms for indigenous Amazon tribes as COVID-19 cases multiply," 12 June 2020 For eco-pessimists, Easter Island foreshadows the destiny of the Earth: as its population grows and resources dwindle, humans may annihilate each other. The Economist, "Hearts of gold Are humans innately good? Rutger Bregman thinks so," 6 June 2020

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

Cite this Entry

“Annihilate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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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