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.
Recent Examples on the Web This is an open door for Chinese companies to devastate up to half of European car sales. Neil Winton, Forbes, 24 July 2022 But in 2019, wildfires raged around his property—part of the massive outbreak of flames called the Black Summer that would devastate much of Australia and draw international attention. Madeline Ostrander, The Atlantic, 23 July 2022 That’s money that could be going towards adapting to a changing climate, reducing poverty, and improving public health, which global warming is expected to devastate. Rohan Montgomery, The New Republic, 26 June 2022 Christopher Flavelle reports for the New York Times that the drought also could devastate wildlife populations, with flies and brine shrimp dying off, leaving migratory birds without a food source. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 July 2022 In the last few years, an unprecedented invasion of Sargassum, an algae that, in abundance, can devastate coastal ecosystems, economies, and human health, is threatening sea life in the area and reducing visibility in the Caribbean. Jessica Mathews, Fortune, 28 June 2022 Multiplied by millions, even a partial withdrawal from the global economy would devastate the incomes of those with little choice but to stay in. Michelle Nijhuis, The New York Review of Books, 25 May 2022 But apart from affecting the people of Shenzhen, who are dealing with more COVID cases and lost wages, supply chain experts say the impact of the lockdown will devastate global imports and exports of crucial goods for the foreseeable future. Andrew Marquardt, Fortune, 14 Mar. 2022 After initial worries that the pandemic would devastate book sales, publishers have recorded strong profits in the past two years and independent sellers have endured. Hillel Italie, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 June 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of devastate was in 1638

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Devastate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for devastate


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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