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 Critical race theory threatens the U.S. military’s mission of defending in combat the Constitution and our way of life from enemies who would destroy and subjugate us. Tom Cotton, National Review, "There’s No Place in America’s Military for Racist Training," 1 Apr. 2021 But the Empire aren’t sharp right now, especially in search and destroy. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "The Dallas Empire aren’t far off from their 2020 pace, but much has to improve for a repeat title run," 29 Mar. 2021 Manchin believes that ending the legislative filibuster would effectively destroy the Senate., "Manchin’s votes to make or break Senate reform," 27 Mar. 2021 The work that would destroy his life, along with hundreds of others. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "The Deadly Fentanyl Fraud Between the Doctor and the Pharmacist," 25 Mar. 2021 Reptile breeders and dealers, acknowledged as the providers of nonnative species that enter Florida’s ecosystem, believe the move will destroy their industry. Tom Keer, Field & Stream, "Florida Moves to Ban Future Importation of Nonnative Species," 23 Mar. 2021 Haspel also helped carry out an order that the CIA destroy its waterboarding videos. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Gina Haspel: What to know about the CIA's first female director," 18 Mar. 2021 Opponents, however, said the complex would destroy the peace of a popular walking, jogging and skiing destination and intrude on a thriving ecosystem. Jesse Leavenworth,, "South Windsor voters reject proposed sports complex and relocation of town hall at referendum," 16 Mar. 2021 Claims that Coca-Cola can destroy these roundworms also likely originate from the myth that the soda is harmful to drink and destroys your insides. Mckenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Pouring Coca-Cola on pork does not make worms appear," 16 Mar. 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

6 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Destroy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 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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