de·stroy | \di-ˈstrȯi, dē-\

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

Fissure 8 is one of 22 around Kilauea that have destroyed over 1,000 structures and forced 2,000 people to evacuate. Terray Sylvester And Jolyn Rosa, The Christian Science Monitor, "Scientists brave dangers studying active Hawaii volcano," 11 July 2018 Israel is also battling large fires caused by the flaming kites and arson balloons launched from Gaza that have destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock. NBC News, "An Israeli shell killed Amr Samour in Gaza, even though he wasn't a protester," 9 July 2018 Take, for example, the 2016 fires in southern Appalachia that destroyed 2,400 buildings and killed 14. Kyle Dickman, Outside Online, "What the West Can Learn from Florida About Forest Fires," 27 June 2018 For weeks, Israel has been struggling to combat large fires caused by kites and balloons rigged with incendiary devices launched by Palestinians in Gaza that have destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock. Ilan Ben Zion, USA TODAY, "Jared Kushner rips Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, says Mideast peace plan due ‘soon’," 24 June 2018 Conricus said that after the drone was destroyed by a single Patriot missile, its remains landed near the Sea of Galilee. Ian Deitch, Fox News, "Israel fires missile at drone that entered from Syria," 12 July 2018 The state's largest wildfire has burned mostly through rural areas, but Cal Fire said Friday morning that nine structures have been destroyed by the 88,375-acre County Fire. Kellen Browning, sacbee, "County Fire update: Nine structures destroyed by state's largest blaze," 6 July 2018 After the June 1 estimates came out, officials learned the home is eligible for a homestead exemption because the previous home on the property was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma. Larry Barszewski,, "Property values higher than estimated a month ago," 2 July 2018 Even though their home wasn't totally destroyed by the storm, the situation was desperate: Colon spent three days searching for baby formula. Aaron Leibowitz, miamiherald, "Displaced Puerto Ricans can fly home or stay in Florida with no FEMA housing. They're staying.," 30 June 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

13 Oct 2018

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



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


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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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