1 of 2


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


2 of 2


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

Example Sentences

Verb Hurricane Andrew ravaged Louisiana and Florida in 1992, causing $19 billion in damage.
Recent Examples on the Web
Also, the past month has seen the worst drought in several decades ravage swaths of Somalia, one of the Arab League’s newer members, bringing some areas of the country to the brink of famine. Jack Jeffery, ajc, 1 Nov. 2022 Elsewhere, terrible droughts ravage farmland and leave streams dry and fauna withered. Erik Kain, Forbes, 16 Aug. 2022 Nuclear war and a pandemic ravage Sweden; small bands of survivors hunt for food and supplies. Neima Jahromi, The New Yorker, 23 May 2022 Carson opts to portray the ravage of resources indirectly, through mood and insinuation. Anelise Chen, The Atlantic, 17 May 2022 As Covid-19 and opioid-use disorder simultaneously ravage communities, both are compounding the strain on healthcare organizations. Nick Culbertson, Forbes, 4 Nov. 2021 As fires rage, oceans rise, and pandemics ravage, the demands for international solidarity and world-scale deployments of resources are readily apparent. Greg Jackson, Harper's Magazine, 10 June 2021 Scientists have hustled to take baseline measurements and assess the situation as the combination of drought, beetles and blazes ravage landscapes. San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Aug. 2021 The report comes as wildfires ravage Europe and the American West this summer. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 9 Aug. 2021
Although presumably the gorgeous natural environment in the area was the reason why the Sacketts wanted to build a house there in the first place, the couple is now willfully pursuing a legal case that could potentially ravage it. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 13 Oct. 2022 Consider inflation Withdrawing assets in weaker markets early in retirement – what experts refer to as sequence-of-return risk – can ravage a portfolio, according to Carson. Robert Powell, USA TODAY, 29 Sep. 2022 Though insulin rationing doesn’t always lead to death, high blood sugar levels can, when left unchecked, ravage a diabetic’s body, causing irreversible long-term complications. Janelle Lutgen, CNN, 16 Aug. 2022 PrPSc is also known to ravage through the brain, creating a sponge-like (spongiform) appearance. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 9 June 2022 Too much sun or rain can also ravage the cap’s signature wrinkles, per the New York Times. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 May 2022 This, of course, all changed when AIDS began to ravage the gay community. Tom Ford, Vogue, 28 June 2022 Hundreds of people have been evacuated or rescued in Puerto Rico’s southwest coastal communities, and others on the island and in the Dominican Republic remain at risk as Hurricane Fiona continues to ravage the region. Karen Garcia, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2022 Drought continues to ravage Africa and parts of the Middle East. Ed O'keefe, CBS News, 19 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ravage.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

ravage 1 of 2


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


2 of 2


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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.