dev·as·tate | \ˈde-və-ˌstāt \
devastated; devastating

Definition of devastate 

transitive verb

1 : to bring to ruin or desolation by violent action a country devastated by war The typhoon devastated the island.

2 : to reduce to chaos, disorder, or helplessness : overwhelm devastated by grief Her wisecrack devastated the class.

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Other Words from devastate

devastatingly \-ˌstā-tiŋ-lē \ adverb
devastation \ˌde-və-ˈstā-shən \ noun
devastative \ˈde-və-ˌstā-tiv \ adjective
devastator \-ˌstā-tər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for devastate

ravage, devastate, waste, sack, pillage, despoil mean to lay waste by plundering or destroying. ravage implies violent often cumulative depredation and destruction. a hurricane ravaged the coast devastate implies the complete ruin and desolation of a wide area. an earthquake devastated the city waste may imply producing the same result by a slow process rather than sudden and violent action. years of drought had wasted the area sack implies carrying off all valuable possessions from a place. barbarians sacked ancient Rome pillage implies ruthless plundering at will but without the completeness suggested by sack. settlements pillaged by Vikings despoil applies to looting or robbing without suggesting accompanying destruction. the Nazis despoiled the art museums

Examples of devastate in a Sentence

The flood devastated the town. The disease has devastated the area's oak tree population. The hurricane left the island completely devastated.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But these loans still carry triple-digit interest rates that can devastate consumers’ finances. Tim Chen, Fortune, "Banks Should Lead the Way Out of the Payday Lending Trap," 6 June 2018 Jerash was at its peak in January of 749 CE when a massive earthquake devastated the region. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Decades of aerial photos reveal how an ancient desert city got its water," 30 May 2018 Ellicott City business owners and residents were preparing to access their Main Street properties Tuesday for the first time since a flash flood devastated the historic Howard County town Sunday. Kate Magill, Howard County Times, "Ellicott City business owners, residents prepare to visit Main Street properties for first time since flood," 29 May 2018 The breed was developed to be resistant to brood disease and Varroa mites that have devastated bee colonies across the country. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "It's All About The Bees At Cedar Lane Apiaries," 1 May 2018 They were devastated by the news that Avicii, 28, was found dead in Muscat, Oman. The Washington Post,, "Avicii, struggling with health and fame, tried to walk away from it all two years before he died," 21 Apr. 2018 Jenner admits she was devastated when Kardashian filed for divorce. Aurelie Corinthios,, "Kris Jenner Calls Cheating on Husband Robert Kardashian 'One of My Biggest Regrets in Life'," 12 July 2018 The incendiary kites and balloons have devastated large swaths of farmland and nature reserves in southern Israel., "Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Bid to Deter Burning Kites," 18 June 2018 The export ban, which also affects ZTE’s network-equipment business, has been devastating for the company as it has been forced to shut down its major operations. Dan Strumpf, WSJ, "Look Inside This Chinese Smartphone and See It’s Made in America," 18 May 2018

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

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for devastate

Latin devastatus, past participle of devastare, from de- + vastare to lay waste — more at waste

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Statistics for devastate

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for devastate

The first known use of devastate was in 1638

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More Definitions for devastate



English Language Learners Definition of devastate

: to destroy much or most of (something) : to cause great damage or harm to (something)

: to cause (someone) to feel extreme emotional pain


dev·as·tate | \ˈde-və-ˌstāt \
devastated; devastating

Kids Definition of devastate

1 : to destroy entirely or nearly entirely The forest was devastated by fire.

2 : to cause to suffer emotionally He was devastated by the loss.

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