di·​lap·​i·​date də-ˈla-pə-ˌdāt How to pronounce dilapidate (audio)
dilapidated; dilapidating

transitive verb

: to bring into a condition of decay or partial ruin
furniture is dilapidated by useJanet Flanner
archaic : squander

intransitive verb

: to decay, deteriorate, or fall into partial ruin especially through neglect or misuse : to become dilapidated
dilapidation noun

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The Origin of Dilapidate

Something that is dilapidated may not have been literally pummeled with stones, but it might look that way. Dilapidate derives from the past participle of the Latin verb dilapidare, meaning "to squander or destroy." That verb was formed by combining "dis-" with another verb, lapidare, meaning "to pelt with stones." From there it's just a stone's throw to some other English relatives of "dilapidate." You might, for example, notice a resemblance between "lapidare" and our word for a person who cuts or polishes precious stones, "lapidary." That's because both words share as a root the Latin noun lapis, meaning "stone." We also find "lapis" in the name "lapis lazuli," a bright blue semiprecious stone.

Examples of dilapidate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web By the 1980s, much of downtown was moribund; buildings that once thrummed with commerce were dilapidated and vacant or underused. Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2023 Only about 70 of the calvary camp’s original 700 buildings remain and are dilapidated ghostly shadows of their once important past. Diane Bell, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 May 2023 At the center of the woods, off Haven Beach Road, was a solitary and dilapidated Colonial homestead that burned to the ground. Bree Sposato, Travel + Leisure, 28 Apr. 2023 Hamdok found that the legacy of 30 years of dictatorship meant that Sudan’s political and economic models were dilapidated. Justin Lynch, CNN, 17 Apr. 2023 The apparent voter approval allows the village to proceed with construction of a new approximate 10,000 square foot clubhouse/pro shop replacing the existing clubhouse that was built nearly a century ago, and has been long been viewed as dilapidated by village officials. Daniel I. Dorfman, Chicago Tribune, 5 Apr. 2023 The initial goal was to repair and renovate it; however, this proved to be impossible as the original structure was too dilapidated. Kimberley Mok, Treehugger, 28 Mar. 2023 The towers would replace a four-acre debris heap where the famed but dilapidated Deauville Beach Resort from the 1950s sat until courts ordered it to be imploded. Mark Bisnow, Fortune, 27 Mar. 2023 Two years ago the school board considered closing Reynolds and moving students and staff to nearby campuses because Reynolds’ 28 modular classrooms installed in 1987 were dilapidated and in need of replacement. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin dilapidatus, past participle of dilapidare to squander, destroy, from dis- + lapidare to pelt with stones, from lapid-, lapis stone

First Known Use

1565, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dilapidate was in 1565


Dictionary Entries Near dilapidate

Cite this Entry

“Dilapidate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dilapidate. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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