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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web That means a man whose obligation yesterday was to help preserve the dwindling Pac-12 now joins a body that has the power to destroy it. oregonlive, 11 Aug. 2022 The other, jealous of his brother’s creations, began to destroy them with a powerful wind. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 8 Aug. 2022 But as Dream prepares to destroy her… Lucienne shows up with Rose's great-grandmother, Unity. Alex Raiman,, 5 Aug. 2022 Facebook and Instagram regularly mine TikTok and Snapchat and pilfer the features created to destroy them. Ben Cohen, WSJ, 28 July 2022 The truth is that American democracy is essentially broken beyond fixing and is unable to withstand a right-wing populist movement determined to destroy it. Brynn Tannehill, The New Republic, 26 July 2022 In the movie scene, two astronomers played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence appear on a news segment to raise alarm about a comet hurtling toward the planet, threatening to destroy it. Shannon Larson,, 21 July 2022 O’Neill fervently believes that today’s innovative technology will save the world rather than destroy it as so many naysayers believe. Cathy Hackl, Forbes, 16 July 2022 The effect is only seen under quantum mechanical conditions (which is how atoms and their particles interact) and any attempt to extract work from such a system will destroy it. Tom Metcalfe, NBC News, 15 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

16 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Destroy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for destroy


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on destroy

Nglish: Translation of destroy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of destroy for Arabic Speakers


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