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 Eternals have disguised themselves among humans for centuries, protecting the planet against their destructive counterparts. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Eternals: What We Know So Far," 3 May 2021 Last week, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt also expressed frustration with the destructive protests. oregonlive, "Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese lowers jail booking criteria," 30 Apr. 2021 This includes the destructive 1619 Project, which seeks to replace 1776 with the year slaves first arrived in North America as the country’s true founding. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Backlash Against Bad History," 30 Apr. 2021 The state’s most deadly and destructive blaze burned 18,804 structures and killed 85 people, wiping out roughly 85 percent of the town of Paradise. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Newsom’s $1B wildfire plan favors Sierra Nevada logging over homeowners," 30 Apr. 2021 That’s a roughly 20-mile track of destructive hail, some the size of a tennis ball. Matthew Cappucci, Anchorage Daily News, "Destructive hail bombards areas near Oklahoma City, Fort Worth and San Antonio," 29 Apr. 2021 The virus has caused misery and loss in many places, but its destructive power has been felt intensely among the incarcerated, who have been infected at rates several times higher than those of their surrounding communities. New York Times, "… but some states rarely test inmates for the virus.," 31 Mar. 2021 Some experts believe Pyongyang's attention-grabbing missile launches over the last week may have been aimed at reminding President Biden of North Korea's destructive power and warning him to make a strong offer if nuclear negotiations resume. NBC News, "Georgia GOP's restrictive new voting law, Biden's question time and a mysterious light show in the Pacific Northwest," 26 Mar. 2021 Proof of the virus’s destructive power keeps accumulating. Meghan O'rourke, The Atlantic, "The Quest to Unlock the Mysteries of Long COVID," 8 Mar. 2021

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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Destructive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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

Comments on destructive

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