ru·​in | \ ˈrü-ən How to pronounce ruin (audio) , -ˌin; ˈrün\

Definition of ruin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a archaic : a falling down : collapse from age to age … the crash of ruin fitfully resounds— William Wordsworth
b : physical, moral, economic, or social collapse
2a : the state of being ruined archaic except in plural the city lay in ruins
b : the remains of something destroyed usually used in plural the ruins of an ancient templethe ruins of his life
3 : a cause of destruction
4a : the action of destroying, laying waste, or wrecking
b : damage, injury
5 : a ruined building, person, or object


ruined; ruining; ruins

Definition of ruin (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to reduce to ruins : devastate
2a : to damage irreparably
b : bankrupt, impoverish ruined by stock speculation
3 : to subject to frustration, failure, or disaster will ruin your chances of promotion

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Other Words from ruin


ruinate \ ˈrü-​ə-​ˌnāt How to pronounce ruinate (audio) , -​nət \ adjective
ruinate \ ˈrü-​ə-​ˌnāt How to pronounce ruinate (audio) \ transitive verb


ruiner noun

Examples of ruin in a Sentence


The incident led to the ruin of their relationship. The abandoned town had gone to ruin. Don't let the house your grandfather built fall into ruin. The castle is now a ruin. The drought brought economic ruin to local farmers. Her drug addiction brought her to the brink of ruin.


The bad weather ruined the party. I ruined the sauce by adding too much garlic. His low test scores ruined his chances of getting into a good school. Poor customer service ruined the company's reputation. He was ruined by debt. The scandal ruined the mayor.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Decaying from fire damage, and basically in ruins, the 210,875-square-meter plot is currently owned by the Crown Prince of Johar, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim—and looks nothing like the Young estate. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "The Real-Life Inspo For the Home in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is Worth Billions," 26 Feb. 2019 The estate was in ruins when Bottura and his wife, Lara Gilmore, acquired it. Kristina O’neill, WSJ, "WSJ. Magazine Editor’s Letter: Ripeness Is All," 15 Feb. 2019 Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, Spain Medina Azahara was built between 940 and 975 C.E. as the seat of the Caliphate of Córdoba (a state in what was formerly Islamic Iberia)—only to be attacked and left in ruins a few decades later. Condé Nast Traveler, "The 19 Newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites," 10 July 2018 The fire’s spread was stopped at about 100 acres (40.5 hectares) in a neighborhood where some houses were in ruins while homes next door were intact. Washington Post, "Wildfires rage through California amid heat rage," 8 July 2018 At Mexico’s El Castillo, among the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, even more assemble on the same date to see the sun make shadows that look like a snake slithering down the pyramid steps. Jill Gleeson, Country Living, "What Exactly Is the Spring Equinox?," 19 Mar. 2019 Monteverdi, in Tuscany, Italy, is right beside the ruins of a 12th-century castle. Carmen Rosy Hall, Vogue, "These Are the World’s Sexiest Bedrooms, According to Two Globe-Trotters Who Would Know," 14 Nov. 2018 The ruins of the oldest public library in Germany have been uncovered. Constance Grady, Vox, "Bigfoot erotica is climbing the rankings on Amazon," 4 Aug. 2018 The ruins are owned and maintained by the Irish Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Maya Mcdowell, House Beautiful, "There's a Private Island in Ireland on the Market For $1.4 Million," 22 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The only thing that ruined the plan was an iceberg. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Wild Conspiracy That the Titanic Never Sank," 27 Feb. 2019 Among the lowlights have been a 31-pitch, four-run fifth inning in a loss to the Washington Nationals last week and a 7-3 defeat Sunday against the Atlanta Braves that ruined a potential road sweep. Katherine Fominykh,, "With Orioles reeling, right-hander David Hess hopes to put Angels 'on the defensive'," 29 June 2018 For that, blame the thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) surgery that robbed Harvey of most of the ’16 and ’17 seasons and that has ruined countless careers before his. Staff,, "Nine Innings: The Cubs' Issue With Launch Angle, Reimagining Bullpen Roles and Jonny Venters's Painful Journey," 30 Apr. 2018 Don’t let spring showers or too much sun ruin your hike. Caitlin Flynn, The Seattle Times, "5 local finds to get you ready for spring hiking season," 25 Mar. 2019 At the risk of ruining all the great Mortal Kombat XI moments before the game even releases, this week’s time traveling trailer is a true joy. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Free copies of Morrowind, Divinity: Original Sin 2 gets a tactics spinoff," 25 Mar. 2019 This path will take you through pine woodland, a ruined miner's village, and even past a cave, all set against the backdrop of the Wicklow Mountains. Nicola Fumo, Town & Country, "What to Pack for an Irish Getaway," 4 Mar. 2019 The cable knit hat is designed with a tiny opening for a ponytail or bun to pull through, keeping your head warm without ruining your style. Shanon Maglente, Good Housekeeping, "This $10 Beanie Shows Off Your Ponytail and Keeps Your Head Warm," 1 Mar. 2019 Extra points for Travis, who has clearly completed his full training in the art of not ruining her lipstick. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott Ended Split Rumors With a Sweet Kiss at the VMAs," 21 Aug. 2018

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

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First Known Use of ruin


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1572, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for ruin


Middle English ruine, from Anglo-French, from Latin ruina, from ruere to rush headlong, fall, collapse

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Statistics for ruin

Last Updated

17 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ruin

The first known use of ruin was in the 12th century

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More Definitions for ruin



English Language Learners Definition of ruin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a state of complete destruction : a state of being ruined
: the remaining pieces of something that was destroyed
: the state of having lost money, social status, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of ruin (Entry 2 of 2)

: to damage (something) so badly that it is no longer useful, valuable, enjoyable, etc. : to spoil or destroy (something)
: to cause (someone) to lose money, social status, etc.


ru·​in | \ ˈrü-ən How to pronounce ruin (audio) \
ruined; ruining

Kids Definition of ruin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to reduce to wreckage a ruined city
2 : to damage beyond repair … “she's … ruined every scrap of clothes she owns.”— Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved
3 : to have a very bad effect on the quality of (something) Losing my wallet ruined the trip.



Kids Definition of ruin (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : complete collapse or destruction
2 ruins plural : the remains of something destroyed the ruins of an ancient city
3 : the situation in which someone experiences loss of money, social status, or position They were on the brink of financial ruin.
in ruins
: nearly or completely destroyed Her reputation was in ruins— Richard Peck, A Year Down Yonder

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More from Merriam-Webster on ruin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ruin

Spanish Central: Translation of ruin

Nglish: Translation of ruin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ruin for Arabic Speakers

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