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.

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Other Words from devastate

devastation \ ˌde-​və-​ˈstā-​shən How to pronounce devastation (audio) \ noun
devastative \ ˈde-​və-​ˌstā-​tiv How to pronounce devastative (audio) \ adjective
devastator \ ˈde-​və-​ˌstā-​tər How to pronounce devastator (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 So did the team's head coach, Glenn Phife: I'm completely devastated by the loss of @SkayeBryce. CBS News, "Florida high school football star hit by freight train and killed," 31 Dec. 2019 After the game, Hurts was clearly devastated about how his college career had just ended. Nick Schwartz, For The Win, "Jalen Hurts reflects on devastating end to college career: 'It hurts me in my heart'," 28 Dec. 2019 No one's talking at this point, but I am devastated by this news. Katherine J Igoe, Marie Claire, "Tyler Cameron Just Scrubbed Pictures of Hannah Brown From His Instagram," 10 Dec. 2019 Country music fans were devastated when Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton announced their split in 2015. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Miranda Lambert Speaks Out About Her Publicized Divorce: 'I Guess I Asked for It'," 28 Nov. 2019 Hugh was devastated, while my only thought was: What’s with the old-fashioned names? David Sedaris, The New Yorker, "Hurricane Season," 25 Nov. 2019 Benson was devastated that this job, too, was taken from him. Megan Rose, ProPublica, "Blame Over Justice: The Human Toll of the Navy’s Relentless Push to Punish One of Its Own," 20 Nov. 2019 Fans of K-pop group Stray Kids are devastated after learning that Kim Woo Jin, who simply goes by Woojin has decided to leave the group. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "JYP Entertainment Has Announced Woojin is Leaving K-Pop Group Stray Kids," 29 Oct. 2019 The population was devastated by loss of prey, erosion of habitat, road accidents and hunting. Helena Amante, Smithsonian, "How the Iberian Lynx Bounced Back From the Brink of Extinction," 8 Oct. 2019

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

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Devastate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for devastate


How to pronounce devastate (audio)

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.

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Comments on devastate

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


to insert between existing elements

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