ru·​in | \ ˈrü-ən , -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 , -​nət \ adjective
ruinate \ ˈrü-​ə-​ˌnāt \ 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

Paradise will not be open to the public for some time; the city is still a maze of closed roads and ruin, with workers in cranes trimming trees and fixing power lines. Scott Wilson, The Seattle Times, "Nearly a month after the Camp Fire began razing their towns, Californians return to ruin," 5 Dec. 2018 In these creaking ruins, stable ground and even breathable air are a gift, through Croft often dives in without apparent worry that either will ever run out. Daniel Starkey, Ars Technica, "Shadow of the Tomb Raider review: Fighting for my life and loving it," 10 Sep. 2018 Hopffgarten, who was also a Shriner, painted desert palms and Greek columns, ancient Egyptian ruins, a Sphinx, women carrying water, a mysterious mosque. Maria L. La Ganga, idahostatesman, "What’s behind ’60s-era paneling at El Korah Shrine? A ballroom’s worth of ’20s art.," 12 July 2018 The last train left the station in 1988 and the depot began its long slide into ruin until Ford this spring began its rescue. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Here's what you might not know about Corktown's history," 9 July 2018 As the nation plummets into economic ruin, even more young women are holding fast to dreams of becoming beauty queens. Washington Post, "In embattled Venezuela, beauty offers ladder out of poverty," 6 July 2018 State street, the main thoroughfare, is a ghastly avenue of ruins, parts of its most stately buildings being tumbled down, and cornices, walls and fronts of practically all principal structures shattered down., "June 30, 1925: Quake rocks Santa Barbara," 30 June 2018 Let the ruins, perched high above Madrid, serve as a warning to a nation riven by enmity and to any citizen who might wish for a dictator like Franco, a murderous strongman who would try to wring immortality from a shrine full of the dead. Matías Costa, Smithsonian, "The Battle Over the Memory of the Spanish Civil War," 28 June 2018 Following the further jurisprudence adventures of proud liberal-elite attorney Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), Season 1 dealt her the triple blow of financial ruin, divorce and the election of Donald Trump. Author: Hank Stuever, Anchorage Daily News, "Summer is the right time for those TV shows you’ve heard about, but never got around to watching," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Opiate addiction has ruined tens of thousands of lives, and no surprise politicians in cahoots with their trial-lawyer friends are trying to cash in on the scourge. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Government Opioid Raid," 28 Jan. 2019 Hiram sent him to jail, forced him to go on the run, pretty much ruined Archie's life. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Who Shot Hiram? A Look at All of the Possible Suspects on "Riverdale"," 24 Jan. 2019 Rolle spent $50,000 of her savings to do so, reportedly ruining her credit in the process. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "The Woman Who Became the Hero of Fyre Festival," 18 Jan. 2019 This is the sort of heavy-handed, didactic commentary from the writers room that has really ruined this season for me — Judah Maccabeets (@AdamSerwer) November 6, 2018 Scene. Constance Grady, Vox, "What it means that we keep talking about America like it’s a TV show," 27 Dec. 2018 Further Reading God of War (2018): How to reinvent a beloved series without ruining what works Getting to play big new releases before everyone else is one of the biggest perks a game critic gets. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Observations and lessons from two decades of writing about video games," 25 Nov. 2018 Insiders told Fox News at the time that NBC executives may have been wary of ruining relationships in Hollywood, and brittle from years of bad publicity and tabloid covers about its own stars’ behavior and personal lives. Sasha Savitsky, Fox News, "NBC News president Noah Oppenheim killed Ronan Farrow's Harvey Weinstein expose to protect his Hollywood ambitions, report says," 31 Aug. 2018 But the reaction to reboots is a mixed bag, leaving some elated to relive the good old days and others lamenting about the lack of creativity and the risk of ruining the original. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Reba, Magnum P.I., Last Man Standing: Which TV Reboots Do You Actually Want?," 9 Aug. 2018 Regardless of his knowledge of the score, the enormous mistake wasted what looked like a plum opportunity to steal a road win from a team that has been accused of ruining the game with its sheer dominance since Durant came in as a free agent. Benjamin Hoffman And Marc Stein, New York Times, "N.B.A. Finals: Warriors Survive Superman’s Best Punch in Game 1," 1 June 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

20 Feb 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 \
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

Comments on ruin

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excited commotion or publicity

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