de·​struc·​tive | \ di-ˈstrək-tiv How to pronounce destructive (audio) \

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 The judge has taken strong interest in PG&E’s electrical system after the company’s power lines started a series of deadly and destructive fires. J.d. Morris,, "PG&E won’t commit to hiring a set amount of tree trimmers," 2 Mar. 2020 The federal quarantine area was created in 2013 in much of Boulder County to prevent the destructive pest’s spread, the news release said. Saja Hindi, The Denver Post, "The emerald ash borer, a tree-destroying beetle, confirmed in Broomfield County," 20 Aug. 2019 But this rotation would wrack the megastructure with yet more destructive stress. Adam Hadhazy, Popular Mechanics, "Could We Build a Dyson Sphere?," 28 Feb. 2020 But officials were further daunted by the possibility that Moscow had the ability to take other, more destructive actions. Olivia Gazis, CBS News, "Bipartisan Senate report urges presidents to "put aside politics" to fight election interference," 6 Feb. 2020 Thus there may not be a simple way to decipher whether an early warning sign is an omen of a major, more destructive quake or a tiny tremble. Everyday Einstein Sabrina Stierwalt, Scientific American, "Can We Predict Earthquakes At All?," 15 Jan. 2020 Telecommunications outages have worsened as wildfires have become more common and more destructive. Washington Post, "California lawmakers eye back-up power for cellphone towers," 8 Jan. 2020 As climate change races towards us, hurricanes are growing more destructive. Paola Rosa-aquino, The New Republic, "The False Comfort of Higher Seawalls," 29 Oct. 2019 That blaze came the same time as the Camp Fire in Butte County, California, which went on to become the deadliest and most destructive fire in the state’s history. Rachel Desantis,, "California Fire Prompts Nearly 13,000 Evacuations, Threatens Homes and Thousands of Acres," 11 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for destructive

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for destructive

Last Updated

23 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Destructive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for destructive


How to pronounce destructive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of destructive

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


de·​struc·​tive | \ di-ˈstrək-tiv How to pronounce destructive (audio) \

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

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