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rav·​age ˈra-vij How to pronounce ravage (audio)
: an act or practice of ravaging
: damage resulting from ravaging : violently destructive effect
the ravages of time


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ravaged; ravaging

transitive verb

: to wreak havoc on : affect destructively
a land ravaged by war

intransitive verb

: to commit destructive actions
ravagement noun
ravager noun
Choose the Right Synonym for ravage

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 ravage in a Sentence

Verb Hurricane Andrew ravaged Louisiana and Florida in 1992, causing $19 billion in damage.
Recent Examples on the Web
Meanwhile, with mere months left to live as his Temp V–induced cancer ravages his body, Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) has discovered a supe-killing virus that could change the tide in their ongoing fight against Vought. Nick Romano, EW.com, 20 May 2024 Related article At least 27 dead as flooding ravages southeast Brazil An emergency was also declared in Tyumen region, one of Russia’s key oil producing areas of Western Siberia, Governor Alexander Moor said. CNN, 9 Apr. 2024
At least 1,336 severe storms in the last four days have ravaged a large part of the nation from Texas through the Midwest and up to the Northeast. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 28 May 2024 Like Fury Road, Furiosa takes places in a post-apocalyptic Australia ravaged by a nuclear war fought over oil and other resources. Megan McCluskey, TIME, 22 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for ravage 

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

Word History



borrowed from French, "destruction, damage (by human or animal agency, or by natural or nonmaterial causes, as disease or age)," going back to Middle French, "destruction by human agency, pillage, violent flood of water," from ravir "to seize forcefully, plunder, sweep along" (going back to Old French) + -age age — more at ravish


borrowed from French ravager, derivative of ravage "destruction, damage" — more at ravage entry 1

First Known Use


circa 1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1602, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of ravage was in 1602

Dictionary Entries Near ravage

Cite this Entry

“Ravage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ravage. Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
rav·​age ˈrav-ij How to pronounce ravage (audio)
: violently destructive action or effect


2 of 2 verb
ravaged; ravaging
: to attack or act upon with great violence
a forest ravaged by fire
ravagement noun
ravager noun

More from Merriam-Webster on ravage

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