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

Once Latin America’s wealthiest nation, oil-rich Venezuela has been driven into hyperinflation and economic ruin by corruption and mismanagement under the ruling socialist party. Kejal Vyas, WSJ, "U.S. Charges Venezuela Media Mogul With Graft, Money Laundering," 20 Nov. 2018 Meanwhile, search and rescue teams have crawled and walked through thousands of buildings and ruins for days in places like Mexico Beach, which was virtually wiped out when Michael roared ashore last week. Gary Fineout And Kelli Kennedy, The Seattle Times, "In Florida, determining hurricane death toll proves elusive," 16 Oct. 2018 Why is Ford buying the old Detroit train station that has become a symbol of the city’s ruin? Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "This Week in the Future of Cars: Getting Down and Dirty," 24 June 2018 Probably there was a ticketing booth, then a path leading up to a rise and then some kind of rail or barrier, which established the limit of how close people could come to the ruins. New York Times, "Take a Photo Here," 27 June 2018 How big a crock can be fashioned out of the ruins of the American experiment? Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "I Watched a Ghoulish Masquerade in Washington," 31 Jan. 2018 Few institutions are more central to British life than the NHS, founded in 1948 in a country determined to build a fairer society out of the ruins of war. Jill Lawless, The Seattle Times, "Winter flu, Brexit put beloved UK health service on sickbed," 28 Jan. 2018 Seoul, South Korea’s capital, would soon — if not already — lie in ruins due to North Korea’s large artillery capabilities. Alex Ward, Vox, "This is exactly how a nuclear war would kill you," 19 Oct. 2018 The Greek island of Paxos is home to some incredible ruins. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Stunning art installation fills 400-year-old Greek ruin with colorful ‘pixels’," 27 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And the sheer power of no-platforming, the demonstrable ability to ruin media figures’ careers and thus have a chilling effect on controversial speech, suggests it should be used with caution. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Milo Yiannopoulos’s collapse shows that no-platforming can work," 5 Dec. 2018 There was fear that Rupert Murdoch was gonna ruin the Wall Street Journal. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Microsoft is more valuable than Apple again. Why?," 30 Nov. 2018 Instead, it’s been replaced by wild packs of players intent on ruining my fun. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Red Dead Online’s early hours are full of violence, beauty, and annoying griefers," 27 Nov. 2018 At dozens of open forums about Minneapolis 2040, neighbors have complained that the upzoning would ruin the character of their neighborhoods. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Here’s what a plan to tackle climate change, density, and affordability looks like," 27 Nov. 2018 Leveling blocks: Nothing ruins a night of sleep quite like rolling downhill, so check out the Camco FasTen leveling blocks ($29.46 for a pack of 10). Megan Barber, Curbed, "The ultimate van life shopping guide," 14 Nov. 2018 Park officials are also worried that Kilauea could begin erupting again, ruining more than a month of work and putting the park permanently out of operation. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Hawaii's Volcano National Park, Closed by Kilauea, Is Finally Reopening," 21 Sep. 2018 Soon after though, your baby hairs start to frizz, completely ruining the style. Shammara Lawrence, Allure, "16 Edge Control Products That Keep Your Baby Hairs Super Sleek," 18 Sep. 2018 While Khloe and Tristan haven't been completely open about the cheating scandal that almost ruined their relationship, a source told UsWeekly that it will be addressed in the next season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "Here's Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson's FULL Relationship Timeline," 26 July 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

11 Dec 2018

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

What made you want to look up ruin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a knickknack or trinket

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