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 The devastation of war, including urban bombing and close-quarters fighting, had damaged or destroyed more than 20% of Germany’s prewar houses and apartments. Anil Menon, The Conversation, "Postwar forced resettlement of Germans echoes through the decades," 7 May 2020 Also, the right to express opinions is not the right to destroy property, Johnston said. Mark Ferenchik,, "How the 1970 Kent State shootings still shape Ohio's colleges 50 years later," 30 Apr. 2020 But that’s unlikely to be a priority for this FCC and its chairman, Ajit Pai, who has spent nearly his entire tenure trying to destroy the program. Gigi Sohn, Wired, "During the Pandemic, the FCC Must Provide Internet for All," 28 Apr. 2020 Too scandalous to be openly displayed, these items were also too historically important to be destroyed. B. Pietras, Longreads, "Secret Museums," 27 Apr. 2020 Clearly, is ready to destroy her husband's heartthrob status before quarantine is over. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Blake Lively Trolls Ryan Reynolds By Sharing a Photo of His Ponytail in Quarantine," 26 Apr. 2020 Once the command is given, HELWS fires a laser at the target, destroying it. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Air Force Mobilizes Its Laser and Microwave Weapons Abroad," 9 Apr. 2020 By bringing domestic life and work into radical collision, Covid-19 has destroyed the façade of our work-life balance. Danielle J. Lindemann, Quartz at Work, "Work-life balance is a lie—and coronavirus is exposing it," 26 Mar. 2020 More than 40 years after a fire destroyed the Beverly Hills Supper Club and killed 165 people, a Northern Kentucky city has given the initial okay for plans to develop the site. Julia Fair,, "Decades after a deadly fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club, 'Memorial Point' residential development proposed for the land," 7 May 2020

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

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Destroy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for destroy


How to pronounce destroy (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for destroy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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