de·​struc·​tive | \di-ˈstrək-tiv \

Definition of destructive 

1 : causing destruction : ruinous destructive storm

2 : designed or tending to hurt or destroy destructive criticism

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Other Words from destructive

destructively adverb
destructiveness noun

Examples of destructive in a Sentence

It was one of the most destructive storms in recent memory. She argued that the law was destructive of personal liberties. The school is concerned about the destructive behavior of a few students.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Their storm surges are more destructive because climate change has already made the seas rise. Seth Borenstein, Fox News, "Scientists: World's warming; expect more intense hurricanes," 15 Sep. 2018 But, on the whole, the performance of our public servants was heroic, not destructive. John Mccain, Popular Mechanics, "John McCain: The 9/11 Conspiracy Myths and the Truth Under Attack," 11 Sep. 2018 The explosion was destructive and heart rending in the extreme. Jeff Suess,, "Our history: Steamboat explosion led to federal regulations," 14 Mar. 2018 Connie’s brusque attitude and sugar addiction attempt to push her in the direction of a Lethal Weapon-esque self-destructive cop. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The Happytime Murders tests the limits of subverting nostalgia," 24 Aug. 2018 Beast Mode 2 is at its strongest when Future is hardened by his self-destructive substance abuse, brought upon by fraught relationships, reframing these observations as pieces of advice and declarations of toughness for the future Future. Will Schube, Billboard, "Zaytoven and Future Are Just Like Bruddas on 'Beast Mode 2'," 9 July 2018 And the obsessive hatred of Obama that grew out of Trump’s humiliation at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner has blossomed into a perverse and often self-destructive mania. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?," 8 July 2018 His other advantage is Amy Adams, who plays Camille, the self-destructive reporter at the show’s center. Evan Romano, New York Times, "‘Sharp Objects’: Jean-Marc Vallée on the Series Premiere and Underdog Storytelling," 8 July 2018 Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won’t push someone into doing something self-destructive. Katie Heaney, The Cut, "If You Think a Friend Might Be Suicidal, Ask," 8 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'destructive.' 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 destructive

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for destructive

The first known use of destructive was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for destructive



English Language Learners Definition of destructive

: causing a very large amount of damage : causing destruction or harm


de·​struc·​tive | \di-ˈstrək-tiv \

Kids Definition of destructive

1 : causing great damage or ruin a destructive storm

2 : not positive or helpful destructive criticism

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Comments on destructive

What made you want to look up destructive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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