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

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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 Camp Fire destroyed nearly 10,000 homes in California. Umair Irfan, Vox, "What we learned from the disasters that hammered the US in 2018," 27 Dec. 2018 The 153,000-acre Camp Fire in November destroyed about 14,000 homes and killed at least 86 people, including in Paradise, Calif., was both the most destructive and most deadly in California history. WSJ, "Immigration, Mueller Probe Boosted U.S. Tensions This Year," 18 Dec. 2018 This year's powerful eruptions destroyed more than 600 homes and made Kīlauea the most destructive volcano in the United States since Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington State in 1980. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Kilauea's 2018 Eruption Was "Unprecedented," Scientists Say," 11 Dec. 2018 Together, the fires have flattened communities, destroyed nearly 12,000 homes, and left more than 80 people dead and 1,000 unaccounted for. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "California Fires: What to Know If You're Visiting California This Week," 21 Nov. 2018 The category four hurricane, which made landfall in Florida on October 10, claimed 35 lives and destroyed many homes, including the residence of Luke Bryan's mom, LeClaire Bryan. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Devastating Photos Show Luke Bryan's Mother's Home Destroyed By Hurricane Michael," 23 Oct. 2018 Earlier in the day, officials had said the lava destroyed nine homes. Mike Arroyo, Fox News, "Hawaii's volcanic eruption has destroyed at least 26 homes, officials say," 2 Oct. 2018 This is one of the main problems with batteries involving metallic lithium: the electrodes destroy themselves over multiple cycles. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "High-density lithium in graphene: An intriguing battery possibility," 29 Nov. 2018 Hermione eventually storms out to do damage control as mayor, telling her husband and daughter that one day their mutual obsession with Archie Andrews will destroy them all. Jessica Macleish, Teen Vogue, ""Riverdale" Recap Season 3 Episode 5: Can Archie Escape From a Teenage Fight Club?!," 15 Nov. 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

6 Jan 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

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

: 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.

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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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