de·​stroy | \ di-ˈstrȯi How to pronounce destroy (audio) , dē-\
destroyed; destroying; destroys

Definition of destroy

transitive verb

1 : to ruin the structure, organic existence, or condition of destroyed the files also : to ruin as if by tearing to shreds their reputation was destroyed a disease that destroys the body's ability to fight off illness destroyed any hope of a return to past crackdowns … — George Brock
2a : to put out of existence : kill destroy an injured horse
b : neutralize the moon destroys the light of the stars
c : annihilate, vanquish armies had been crippled but not destroyed— W. L. Shirer

intransitive verb

: to cause ruin or destruction it is proverbially easier to destroy than to construct— T. S. Eliot

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Examples of destroy in a Sentence

Eventually our problems with money destroyed our marriage. All the files were deliberately destroyed. The disease destroys the body's ability to fight off illness. The bomb blast destroyed the village. The dog had to be destroyed since its owner could not prevent it from attacking people.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Two barrel houses at a Jim Beam facility in Kentucky went up in flames late Tuesday, destroying tens of thousands of barrels of bourbon. Janelle Griffith, NBC News, "45,000 barrels of Jim Beam bourbon burn in blaze at Kentucky warehouse," 3 July 2019 The local Congress moved to action after an infamous inferno engulfed the tiny heartland town of Spencer in 1931, destroying 80 businesses and racking up $2 million in damage. Luke Winkie, Vox, "Anime brings in more than $19 billion a year. Its artists are earning barely enough to survive.," 2 July 2019 The event leveled trees and destroyed forests across 770 square miles, an area nearly the size of three-quarters of the US state of Rhode Island. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "On International Asteroid Day, here's what to know about the threat to Earth," 30 June 2019 June 30 is the day for this kind of activity because on this day in 1908, an asteroid exploded over Tunguska, Russia, destroying hundreds of acres of forest. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Happy Asteroid Day! NASA still can’t track the ones that could end civilization," 29 June 2019 The fire tore through the roof of the 13th-century cathedral, destroying the spire which toppled in flames and sections of the interior. Washington Post, "Paris prosecutor: no sign Notre Dame fire of criminal origin," 27 June 2019 On Wednesday, June 19th in the early morning, a massive fire erurpted on the 17000 block of Perdido Key Drive in Pensacola, Florida, eventually destroying 26 condos and a stand-alone home. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "How Perdido Key Beach Community Is Recovering After Massive Condo Fire," 27 June 2019 This was heated to 90 degrees centigrade for three minutes so as to destroy all the germs of the disease, but not the spores. John Spina, The Denver Post, "Longmont residents sick of nasty, vomiting turkey vultures," 21 June 2019 The firefighting efforts would turn into a weeks-long ordeal, destroying more than 150 homes and injuring three people, Cal Fire reported. Char Adams,, "Man Trying to Kill Wasp Sparked California's Biggest Fire: 'Mother Nature, You Have No Control'," 13 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'destroy.' 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 destroy

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for destroy

Middle English, from Anglo-French destroy-, destrui-, stem of destrure, from Vulgar Latin *destrugere, alteration of Latin destruere, from de- + struere to build — more at structure

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Statistics for destroy

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for destroy

The first known use of destroy was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for destroy



English Language Learners Definition of destroy

: to cause (something) to end or no longer exist : to cause the destruction of (something) : to damage (something) so badly that it cannot be repaired
: to kill (an animal) especially because it is sick, injured, or dangerous
informal : to defeat (someone or something) easily or completely


de·​stroy | \ di-ˈstrȯi How to pronounce destroy (audio) \
destroyed; destroying

Kids Definition of destroy

1 : to put an end to : do away with destroy a building destroy a dream
2 : kill entry 1 sense 1 Officials destroyed the diseased animals.

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More from Merriam-Webster on destroy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with destroy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for destroy

Spanish Central: Translation of destroy

Nglish: Translation of destroy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of destroy for Arabic Speakers

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