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 There’s a lady, a knife, a detective, and then everything is annihilated. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Microsoft reveals the first Xbox Series X games: Watch every trailer," 7 May 2020 Our healthcare system is just being annihilated right now by this pandemic. Tatiana Sanchez,, "Coronavirus: American doctors desperate to come home as more countries close borders," 31 Mar. 2020 Commercials by Domino’s and Papa John’s reminded viewers that the heat of pizza ovens annihilates germs. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "The Delicate Art of Disastertising," 23 Apr. 2020 In this textured portrait of an artist of annihilating smoothness, Gopnik has finely rendered many of Warhol’s milieus. Stephen Metcalf, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Was Andy Warhol a saint or scourge, genius or dolt? A new biography befits a great life," 22 Apr. 2020 But flowing air, ice, and water chew up old rocks, while trenches deep under water annihilate ancient crust. Robin George Andrews, National Geographic, "The moon may have stretched early Earth into a potato shape," 15 Apr. 2020 Physicists think inflation initially created the same amount of matter and antimatter, which annihilate each other on contact. Yasemin Saplakoglu, Scientific American, "“Cosmic String” Gravitational Waves Could Solve Antimatter Mystery," 3 Mar. 2020 Midnight on the clock marks the symbolic moment when humankind could annihilate itself. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science | AAAS, "Doomsday Clock is reset to 100 seconds until midnight, closest ever," 23 Jan. 2020 The author, in addition, salts his tale with an amusement that remains fresh despite that annihilating destroyer of humor, the passage of time. Richard Snow, WSJ, "Five Best: Richard Snow on Lesser-Known Novels of World War I," 17 Jan. 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

Last Updated

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Annihilate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 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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