dev·​as·​tat·​ing ˈde-və-ˌstā-tiŋ How to pronounce devastating (audio)
: causing great damage or harm
a devastating flood/earthquake
a devastating injury
A devastating coastal tsunami could also result from a severe displacement of the San Andreas Fault.Gary Sandquist
: causing extreme emotional pain
a devastating loss
Even the most banal domestic melodramas, readers come to understand, are experienced as devastating tragedies by children living them for the first time.Entertainment Weekly
: extremely effective or powerful
a devastating satire
He had a devastating wit and an utter contempt for shoddy work in physics.Jeremy Bernstein
devastatingly adverb
Some people recover readily from the infection, but in others it becomes disseminated, spreading rapidly and devastatingly from lungs to bones, skin and nervous system Lawrence Galton
Postcards from the Edge is a devastatingly savvy, bitingly funny, yet sad movie based on Carrie Fisher's autobiographical novel about Hollywood. Jeffrey Lyons
… is portrayed as a devastatingly effective power broker in the Senate. Alan Brinkley

Examples of devastating in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Six months before the events at the Capitol, Pavlik suffered a devastating family tragedy when his only child, Joseph Jr., a Justice police officer and suburban SWAT team member, killed himself, Beaumont wrote. Jason Meisner Chicago Tribune (tns),, 27 Nov. 2023 End of carousel News of the prisoners’ release Friday rippled out through Palestinian communities, a small shot of relief, in some cases even happiness, amid what people here say is the most devastating war since the state of Israel was founded in 1948. Sufian Taha, Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2023 What’s going on? SDG&E officials say the rise in profits is primarily due to taking on more infrastructure projects to: help prevent outbreaks of devastating wildfires maintain reliability for an increasingly complicated power grid, and meet California’s ambitious decarbonization goals. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Nov. 2023 Besides its devastating bombardment, Israel has also imposed a near-total siege on Gaza since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls the territory. Ameera Harouda, New York Times, 24 Nov. 2023 Ultimately, the Protagonist and Tenet must foil a plot by future antagonists who are trying to reverse the flow of time to undo the devastating effects of climate change in that future. Jennifer Ouellette and Sean M. Carroll, Ars Technica, 24 Nov. 2023 Palestinians place the onus squarely on Israel’s devastating bombardment and the harsh curtailment of all of life’s necessities — food, fuel, clean water, medical care. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2023 Grammys 2024 Nominations: SZA, Phoebe Bridgers, Taylor Swift Among Top Noms — See the Full List The result is an intimate depiction of a man doing his best to juggle the soaring highs of his career with the devastating lows of his personal life, and the ways in which love and art can heal. Rachel Desantis, Peoplemag, 24 Nov. 2023 Now, at least some of them – the nearly 240 men, women, and children abducted by Hamas in its devastating cross-border assault from Gaza Oct. 7 – may be coming home. Neri Zilber, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'devastating.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of devastating was in 1634

Dictionary Entries Near devastating

Cite this Entry

“Devastating.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

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