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

Aerial investigators from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales have discovered a Roman fortlet beneath a field in Magor, along with the ruins of an ancient farm not far away in Langstone. The Economist, "Dry weather is helping archaeologists discover ancient sites," 12 July 2018 That is, until researchers discovered ancient whale bones within the ruins of a fish-processing site in the ancient Roman city of Baelo Claudia, near today’s Tarifa, Spain. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Scientists admit Pliny the Elder was right about orcas and whales.," 11 July 2018 USA TODAY Sports Contrary to popular opinion, the Golden State Warriors are not going to be the ruin of the NBA. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "No, the Warriors and their 'super team' are not going to ruin the NBA," 3 July 2018 The station, out of service and closed to the public since 1988, is perhaps Detroit's most renowned urban ruin. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Morouns out: Ford sends invitations for Detroit train station party," 11 June 2018 Their children will not return, their citrus orchards bear little fruit and around them in the brush are the ruins of other American ranches, some long abandoned, others more recently left to neglect. John Maccormack, San Antonio Express-News, "Old American colony in Mexico clings to its past," 18 May 2018 Once upon a time, the lottery would be the ruin of society. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Supreme Court says you can't stop progress, or legalized betting," 14 May 2018 In the background are the ghostly ruins of the piers from an old aqueduct that once crossed the waterway. Peter Marteka,, "The Ruins Of An Engineering Wonder Along The Farmington River," 13 May 2018 Sheko said there are many more potential ruins that have yet to be brought to life. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Ancient Christian ruins discovered under former ISIS-held territory," 1 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His girlfriend, played by Tessa Thompson, at first enjoys his success, then sees the ways in which money and power are ruining their lives. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "This Week in Timothée Chalamet, July 6 Edition," 6 July 2018 Going forward, the pseudonym was primarily employed when a director felt a studio had usurped his or her creative vision and ruined their film, in which case the DGA would grant permission to credit Smithee instead. Thomas Harlander, Los Angeles Magazine, "What Ever Happened to Alan Smithee, Hollywood’s Worst Director?," 4 June 2018 For him, in his opinion, exposure was going to ruin him. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "A Very English Scandal Star Hugh Grant on the Crime That Shocked Britain," 30 June 2018 For him, in his opinion, exposure was going to ruin him. Michele Corriston,, "Hugh Grant Returns to TV as a Gay Politician Who Attempts Murder in A Very English Scandal," 29 June 2018 People just don’t realize that girdling a tree with a wire or nylon rope is a sure way to ruin it. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, "What’s the story with morning glories not blooming?," 29 June 2018 Remember, Guerra turned in a quietly effective 2016 season before injuries ruined him last year. Michael Beller,, "Max Stassi Leads the Way on This Week's Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire," 1 June 2018 Christopher Owings' double to left field ruined it, perhaps the only regret on this night. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Gerrit Cole fans 16 in one-hit shutout of Diamondbacks," 5 May 2018 It was ruined in a matter of just a couple corners. Jason Hoffman,, "Dale Earnhardt Jr. talk about life after racing, Kentucky Speedway and the Chevy Camaro," 13 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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Learn More about ruin

Phrases Related to ruin

go to rack and ruin

in ruins

Statistics for ruin

Last Updated

18 Sep 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

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an open space surrounded by woods

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