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 Behind the advancing armies, German units led mass killings of Jews as Nazi authorities accelerated their efforts to annihilate the Jewish population of Europe. Daniel Todman, WSJ, "‘1941’ Review: The Year Hitler Lost the War," 12 July 2019 The ’85 Bears defense annihilated everything that came in its path. Brad Biggs,, "Bears Q&A: Will a healthy offense show some life? Is Leonard Floyd trending toward being a bust? What position is best for Alex Bars?," 16 Oct. 2019 In 2014, Seattle annihilated Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ vertical passing attack. Ellis L. Williams, cleveland, "Attacking Seattle: Cleveland must take what the Seahawks give, stop seeking the big play -- Film Review," 12 Oct. 2019 The door is closing ever so slowly on the reunions.’’ The Mordechai family lived in Veria, Greece, near Thessaloniki, where nearly the entire Jewish community was annihilated within a few months in one of the most brutal executions of the Nazis., "In fading ritual, WWII rescuer reunites with Jews she saved - The Boston Globe," 4 Nov. 2019 The former, employing privacy-annihilating surveillance by digital technologies, is inflicting totalitarianism of a hitherto impossible intensity. George Will, National Review, "Time Is on Taiwan’s Side — but It Needs U.S. Support," 26 Sep. 2019 Two weeks after Dorian annihilated much of Grand Bahama, some residents still languish with no electricity, dwindling food and limited access to medical care. Rosa Flores And Holly Yan, CNN, "These US medics go door to door in the Bahamas. The need for help is endless," 18 Sep. 2019 Remember how, as Americans cheered them on, the politicians voted to go to war in Iraq, and how Iraq, a country that was not responsible for the attacks, would be thrown into an annihilating chaos that hasn’t ended. Mary Schmich,, "Column: As we remember Sept. 11, let’s not forget the mistakes made in its name," 11 Sep. 2019 The absence of salt in the bay and its tributaries has been annihilating oyster spat production and oyster growth at hatcheries and farms around the region. Julia Rentsch,, "Maryland oysters are having a bad year, and here’s why," 18 Aug. 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

11 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Annihilate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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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).


easily led, controlled, or managed

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