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

One of the most destructive earthquakes in California history happened on the Hayward Fault in 1868, when a magnitude 6.8 killed 30 people and caused significant damage to property. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "Two Big Earthquakes Shook Rural Southern California. What Would Have Happened If They Were in San Francisco or Los Angeles?," 8 July 2019 That would rival damages from the 2011 flood, the most destructive of the past 25 years. Daniel Cusick, Scientific American, "No End in Sight for Record Midwest Flood Crisis," 26 June 2019 This describes the extremity of their destructive effects. Bonnie Blodgett, Twin Cities, "Blundering Gardener: To be a gardener, it’s best to embrace the win some, lose some philosophy," 22 June 2019 The latest Iran news exposes one of the most important, and potentially most destructive, false narratives at the core of that whole story. Greg Sargent, The Denver Post, "Sargent: Trump’s Iran reversal exposes one of his most dangerous lies," 21 June 2019 On top of that, climate change, pollution and pesticides, as well as the movement of species to non-native environments around the world, have had a destructive cascading effect on local ecosystems and their insects. Anne Sverdrup-thygeson, WSJ, "The Bugs We Can’t Live Without," 20 June 2019 High winds knocking down power lines during hot, dry weather have been blamed for starting several of the state's most destructive wildfires. CBS News, "PG&E to pay $1 billion to local governments for wildfire damage," 19 June 2019 That followed the state's deadliest and most destructive wildfire, the Camp Fire. Hollie Silverman, CNN, "Hundreds of firefighters are battling blazes on the West Coast, and it's only going to get hotter," 10 June 2019 Outlawed thirty years ago by the Montreal Protocol because of their harmful effects on the stratospheric ozone layer, CFCs have also been found to have a second, destructive effect on the climate. National Geographic, "One overlooked way to fight climate change? Dispose of old CFCs.," 29 Apr. 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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Statistics for destructive

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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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 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

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


food or victuals

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