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 Any one of these numerous objects has the potential to seriously damage or destroy operating satellites and spacecraft in orbit. Jonathan O'callaghan, Forbes, "China’s ‘Reckless’ Rocket Crash Is A Stark Reminder Of The Daunting Space Junk Problem," 9 May 2021 Barbara Linn Probst's story illustrates how the strands of biology can grip, but not destroy. Ew Staff,, "Emily Henry, Laura Dave, and more authors offer must-read books for spring," 7 May 2021 Smith was arrested two months later as authorities tracked him down after discovering evidence tying him to the crime scene, according to the criminal complaint, which claimed Smith set fire to the home destroy any evidence in Huelse's death. Jim Riccioli, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee man turns down a plea deal in 2019 Waukesha homicide/arson case, but his trial date remains in question," 6 May 2021 The local terrorists will do everything possible to not only destroy the facilities but to ruin the experience for those wanting to attend the games. oregonlive, "Canzano: Monday Mailbag is a collision of sports, baseball, masks, frustration -- and broken leadership," 3 May 2021 The former president’s criticism also included his belief that Biden wants to abolish oil and natural gas and destroy the Second Amendment. Dallas News, "On call backing Susan Wright, Donald Trump blasts Joe Biden, suggests he won Texas by larger margin," 30 Apr. 2021 The use of drones for targeting purposes will allow the Navy to detect, track, and destroy enemy targets at long distance without exposing friendly ships to enemy sensors. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "A Navy Destroyer Teamed Up With Drones to Hit a Ship 250 Miles Away," 28 Apr. 2021 In addition, the statement said, Coleman was indicted on a charge of withholding evidence for allegedly trying to destroy a cell phone in the presence of police officers., "Fall River couple indicted for murder and neglect in death of man’s 14-year-old disabled son," 29 Mar. 2021 His dying screed accused the North of tyrannically upsetting the delicate balance between free and slave states that had existed at the country’s founding and of deliberately trying to destroy the South economically via tariffs. Charlotte Allen, Washington Examiner, "The ghost of John C. Calhoun," 18 Feb. 2021

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

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Destroy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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
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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