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

transitive verb

: to cause to cease to exist : to do away with entirely so that nothing remains
: to destroy a considerable part of
Bombs annihilated the city.
The enemy troops were annihilated.
: to defeat overwhelmingly : rout
annihilated the visitors 56–0
: to cause to be of no effect : nullify
a right to freedom that cannot be annihilated
: to destroy the substance or force of
Fear can annihilate one's confidence.
: to regard as of no consequence
: 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)
annihilatory adjective

Example Sentences

The enemy troops were annihilated. He annihilated his opponent in the last election.
Recent Examples on the Web This includes systems to locate and annihilate enemy electronic warfare systems. Sebastien Roblin, Forbes, 5 May 2023 One key former researcher at OpenAI says that such a future is a distinct possibility, but also warns there is a non-zero chance that human- or superhuman-level A.I. could take control of humanity and even annihilate it. Tristan Bove, Fortune, 3 May 2023 This is the story of a boxer who, even when considered next to the world’s most awesome power punchers, had a hook that packed an annihilating force. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 26 Apr. 2023 As the light circulates around the final ring, two laser photons of different frequencies are annihilated to generate a pair of entangled photons. IEEE Spectrum, 17 Apr. 2023 Detroit Tigers' 2023 Opening Day roster prediction 2.0 Keith, a 21-year-old prospect who hasn't played above High-A West Michigan and won't make the Opening Day roster, annihilated a first-pitch fastball from right-hander Domingo Germán in the second inning to put the Tigers ahead 2-0. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 17 Mar. 2023 But bolstered by the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of men, Russia’s military has persisted with its attacks and has inched forward in the city of Bakhmut, which has been virtually annihilated by months of fighting. Alan Yuhas, New York Times, 2 Mar. 2023 Still recuperating from the worst terrorist attack on American soil in its history, the U.S. set out to accomplish two very clear, narrow missions in Afghanistan: annihilate the al-Qaeda terrorist network that committed those destructive acts, and punish the Taliban regime for harboring the group. Daniel Depetris, National Review, 15 Apr. 2021 But also, the way Eva talked to Dre is probably the reason why Eva got annihilated. Demetrius Patterson, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'annihilate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1525, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of annihilate was in 1525

Dictionary Entries Near annihilate

Cite this Entry

“Annihilate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


an·​ni·​hi·​late ə-ˈnī-ə-ˌlāt How to pronounce annihilate (audio)
annihilated; annihilating
: to destroy completely
annihilation noun
annihilator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on annihilate

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