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

Boxes of fruit, including bananas and watermelon, were destroyed. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "18-wheeler carrying produce overturns in NE Houston," 13 July 2018 The Teller County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that David Renfrow, 23, Kegan Owens, 19, and a male 17-year-old were arrested in connection with a fire that has destroyed at least eight homes. Washington Post, "National Digest: 3 arrested after wildfire destroys eight homes in Colorado," 11 July 2018 The Teller County Sheriff's Office says Monday that 23-year-old David Renfrow, 19-year-old Kegan Owens and a 17-year-old boy were arrested in connection with a fire that has destroyed at least eight homes. Fox News, "The Latest: 3 arrested in connection with Colorado wildfire," 10 July 2018 The money comes as a deadline looms for a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that has helped hundreds of families who came to Connecticut from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands last year after hurricanes destroyed their homes. Nyssa Kruse,, "State Divies Up $600,000 Set Aside For Hurricane Maria, Irma Survivors," 9 July 2018 Perhaps the most destructive of them was the Holiday fire in Goleta, which destroyed 10 homes and nine other structures in what has become a familiar litany of terror and loss in Santa Barbara County., "Today: A Mile-Long Dive Through Peril," 9 July 2018 Then in January, mudslides in the same area killed 20 people and destroyed still more homes. Andrea Castillo And John Wilkens, Anchorage Daily News, "California city devastated by brush fire as record heat burns a path of destruction," 7 July 2018 Harvey caused catastrophic flooding, took more than 80 lives and destroyed homes and communities in the nation’s fourth-largest city. Jennifer Calfas, Time, "Flash Floods Rain Out Fourth of July Festivities in Houston," 4 July 2018 Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September, destroying homes and infrastructure, and researchers have estimated that more than 4,500 people may have died in the storm and its aftermath. Nicole Acevedo /, NBC News, "Judge extends FEMA temporary housing for Puerto Ricans displaced after hurricane," 3 July 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

1 Sep 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).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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