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 And, hearkening back to the fears raised after the Cole episode, the Navy wants to be able to destroy waves of small antiship cruise-missile-armed boats or merchant ships, without drawing upon the aircraft on its carriers. Jim Wilson, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy's Stealth Strike Force: PM Meets the New Littoral Combat Ship," 22 Apr. 2021 Shirking those responsibilities, however – even if within one’s legal rights – can destroy long-term value and firm reputation. Sarah Keohane Williamson, Forbes, "A Lesson In Stakeholder Capitalism From The Failed Super League," 21 Apr. 2021 This would, of course, destroy the fabric of what college football is. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: A college football Super League would be very lucrative ... for the very few," 20 Apr. 2021 The Super League wouldn’t destroy the Champions League. Washington Post, "Plan for a European soccer Super League panics fans, prompts emergency political statements," 19 Apr. 2021 Cicadas, on the other hand, won't destroy crops and only feed on juices from trees. London Gibson, The Indianapolis Star, "No, they won't bite: Debunking 8 common myths about cicadas and the incoming Brood X," 13 Apr. 2021 Iraqi forces destroy more than 4,000 villages in Kurdistan. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, "Kurdish People Fast Facts," 13 Apr. 2021 Deer, wild rabbits and other animals that can get into your yard can destroy your hard work, so consider adding fencing or other deterrents. Laura Wheatman Hill,, "What do you need for a spring garden?," 11 Apr. 2021 While both are essential to plant life, excessive amounts can destroy ecosystems, experts say. Li Cohen, CBS News, "Nearly "catastrophic" Piney Point wastewater leak could irreparably harm neighboring marine life, experts say," 11 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for destroy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for destroy

Last Updated

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Destroy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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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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Comments on destroy

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