dev·​as·​tate | \ ˈde-və-ˌstāt How to pronounce devastate (audio) \
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.

Other Words from devastate

devastation \ ˌde-​və-​ˈstā-​shən How to pronounce devastate (audio) \ noun
devastative \ ˈde-​və-​ˌstā-​tiv How to pronounce devastate (audio) \ adjective
devastator \ ˈde-​və-​ˌstā-​tər How to pronounce devastate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for devastate


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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 As a result, an oil spill could potentially devastate a region's lobsters -- and its lobster fishing industry -- five to seven years later, when those larval lobsters would have reached market size, the institute says. Brandon Griggs, CNN, 5 Oct. 2021 Environmentalists say that allowing road construction — a first step toward logging — could devastate the vast wilderness of snowy peaks, rushing rivers, and virgin old-growth forest that is widely viewed as one of America’s treasures., 11 June 2021 Such dramatic losses will devastate the West’s forests and dry up rivers like the mighty Colorado, which supplies water to some 40 million people and has been in drought for more than 20 years. Amy Brady, Scientific American, 18 Oct. 2021 Warm season grasses grown in southern states can regenerate after armyworm invasions, but the caterpillars can permanently devastate cool season grasses. Christine Fernando, USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2021 If the commission upends net metering in a way that could devastate the state’s rooftop solar market, the industry may try to reverse the move through the courts or by putting a ballot measure before voters, Del Chiaro said. J.d. Morris, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 Nov. 2021 The end of these monthly payments will financially devastate many American families, pushing them back into poverty. Washington Post, 9 Dec. 2021 In the treeless Aleutians, rats can devastate birds that nest on the ground. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, 28 Nov. 2021 Surging debt yields and plunging stocks would devastate business and household confidence. William Pesek, Forbes, 8 Oct. 2021

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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Time Traveler for devastate

Time Traveler

The first known use of devastate was in 1638

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Statistics for devastate

Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Devastate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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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 How to pronounce devastate (audio) \
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on devastate

Nglish: Translation of devastate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of devastate for Arabic Speakers


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