de·​stroy | \di-ˈstrȯi, dē-\

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

The Waterfront Inn, a vacant bar and former dance hall, on the banks of the Deep River was destroyed during an early morning fire Friday. Craig Lyons, Post-Tribune, "Vacant dance hall in New Chicago destroyed by fire, putting plans for development on hold," 13 July 2018 Crews were able to put out the fire, but the blaze destroyed a camper and damaged two others. Peter Marteka, Courant Community, "Fire Damages Shed, Vehicles At RV Dealership," 5 July 2018 The properties were eventually destroyed, despite the fact that 72 percent of those who voted did not support the measure. Olga Mecking, The Atlantic, "‘Cargo-Bike Moms’ Are Gentrifying the Netherlands," 11 June 2018 Bizarrely, this Roman city has never been destroyed. Marie-noëlle Bauer, Condé Nast Traveler, "How the Man Behind the World's Greatest Hotels Spends His Time Off," 8 June 2018 Some relevant records have reportedly been destroyed, the New York Times reported. Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, "Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 14 July 2018 The power grid was destroyed when Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico back-to-back last September, and hundreds of customers in central mountainous regions still haven’t had service restored with another hurricane season under way. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Puerto Rico Utility Directors Resign, Alleging Political Interference," 12 July 2018 Schwartzenberger said his onsite commander reported 122 structures in the park were completely destroyed. CBS News, "Newborn baby killed, dozens injured when tornado strikes North Dakota city," 11 July 2018 On Sunday, Cal Fire spokesman Brice Bennett said no homes were destroyed, but seven outbuildings have been damaged. Cassie Dickman, sacbee, "Firefighters gain ground, some evacuations lifted: Northern California fires update," 9 July 2018

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

10 Nov 2018

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

: to defeat (someone or something) easily or completely


de·​stroy | \di-ˈstrȯi \
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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Comments on destroy

What made you want to look up destroy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express warning or disapproval

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