an·​ni·​hi·​la·​tion ə-ˌnī-ə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce annihilation (audio)
plural annihilations
: the state or fact of being completely destroyed or obliterated : the act of annihilating something or the state of being annihilated
The late 1940s and '50s were so pervaded by a general fear of nuclear annihilation that the era was known as the Age of Anxiety.Charles Krauthammer
For a literary culture that fears it is on the brink of total annihilation, we are awfully cavalier about the Great Male Novelists of the last century.Katie Roiphe
… few experts believe that either regime would risk annihilation by actually launching a nuke in anger.Michael Elliott
The Cretaceous Extinction, whatever its cause, was one of the two most awesome annihilations of life in the history of the world.John McPhee
physics : the combination of a particle and its antiparticle (such as an electron and a positron) that results in the subsequent total conversion of the particles into energy
Both the creation and annihilation of antimatter have been observed in nuclear accelerators (atom-smashers).Harding E. Smith
The annihilation reactions are the most efficient sources of energy known, for in them the entire mass of both particles is converted into pure energy.George Greenstein

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The Suns bounced back from that one-point upset loss to Houston with a complete annihilation of the Spurs. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 8 Dec. 2022 In 2020, TikTok, the world’s most popular app, seemed inches from annihilation. Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2022 Attempts by the tiny rural authority to resist this casual annihilation were in vain; by 1965, work on the reservoir was complete and 16.4 million gallons of water turned Capel Celyn into an underwater graveyard. Elizabeth Lowry, WSJ, 5 Aug. 2022 Brook trusted that, after the horrors of World War II and the rising threat of nuclear annihilation, audiences were up to the challenge of the play’s apocalyptic vision and its understanding of evil as something recognizable in human nature. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 3 July 2022 Though disaster has always been a part of American life, the threat of nuclear annihilation introduced pervasive existential fears. Alexis Mccrossen, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Dec. 2021 Its demise capped the Cold War between Communism and the West, in which hundreds of millions had lived within a wailing four-minute warning of nuclear annihilation. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 25 Dec. 2021 Self annihilation fueled with medicating left me a shell, and the world on mute. Julia Moore, Peoplemag, 17 May 2023 What about the possibility of nuclear annihilation? Lorraine Hansberry, Vulture, 27 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of annihilation was circa 1526

Dictionary Entries Near annihilation

Cite this Entry

“Annihilation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

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