destroy

verb
de·​stroy | \ di-ˈstrȯi , 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The traffickers should face criminal charges and receive jail time for their involvement in such schemes, and law enforcement officers should work to disrupt and destroy the criminal gangs that perform such trafficking. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Our favorite (and least favorite) tech of 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 And personal homes, purchased after years of saving and sacrifice, may become devalued or destroyed. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Climate change and the coming coastal real estate crash," 16 Oct. 2018 There's about 10 seconds of that towards the end, a ring of fire destroying everything in its path. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Battlefield V teases its battle royale mode, Deep Silver acquires TimeSplitters," 17 Aug. 2018 Barr, 34, died after a contractor hit a gas line under the streets of downtown Sun Prairie, prompting a massive explosion that injured 11 others and destroyed a number of buildings — including Barr's own tavern. Max Bayer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mourners, including 700 uniformed officers, turn out to honor firefighter killed in blast," 14 July 2018 With power out and the cellphone network largely destroyed, FEMA was operating in the dark. Arelis R. Hernandez And Joel Achenbach, chicagotribune.com, "Failure of imagination hindered federal response to hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico," 14 July 2018 Type 1 diabetes, which typically is diagnosed in childhood, occurs when the immune system destroys the cells that produce insulin. Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Washington Post, "Retooled Vaccine Raises Hopes As A Lower-Cost Treatment For Type 1 Diabetes," 13 July 2018 Protectionism or tariffs — coerced restraints on trade — cripple, hobble and destroy the source of life and prosperity. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Can the U.S. economy withstand a trade war?," 13 July 2018 The gas line explosion, which authorities say was an accident, destroyed at least four buildings, leaving streets filled with debris. Christopher Brito, CBS News, "J.J. Watt quietly donates $10K to fallen Wisconsin firefighter's family," 12 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about destroy

Statistics for destroy

Last Updated

17 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for destroy

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for destroy

destroy

verb

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

destroy

verb
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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

very full or close together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!