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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The body of a resident was found Friday morning in the charred ruins of a Hornbrook home, but authorities were struggling to identify the body. NBC News, "Weather grants some relief as wildfires burn in West amid heatwave," 7 July 2018 The body of a resident was found Friday morning in the charred ruins of a Hornbrook home, but authorities were struggling to identify the body. CBS News, "New fires sweep through sweltering Southern California," 7 July 2018 Privacy - Terms While touring the ruins of Fort Churchill, Zimmern dined on son-of-a-gun stew — a mishmash of beef, elk, antelope and assorted vegetables cooked in a Dutch oven — and boiled elk tongue. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Pony Express-themed "Bizarre Foods" episode takes celebrity chef into Sacramento," 2 July 2018 Outlook: Ole Miss is going to need time to fully dig out of the ruins of NCAA sanctions. Edgar Thompson,, "Ole Miss rebuilding after NCAA sanctions, Rebels are No. 57 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 1 July 2018 Rail Wizard’s Widow Killed The body of Mrs. Charles E. Perkins, widow of the railroad wizard, former officials of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, was found buried in the ruins of a section of the Arlington hotel., "June 30, 1925: Quake rocks Santa Barbara," 30 June 2018 The 40 treks combine history with nature, ambling alongside ruins of 19th-century mills deep into the woods or visiting the National Canal Museum on a hike in Easton. Michael Milne,, "Field-Tested Travel Tip: Go Take a Hike," 29 June 2018 McCARTHY — Twenty years after acquiring the massive ruins of the Kennecott copper mines, the National Park Service has finally figured out a way to preserve the historic company town and tell its story — without banishing all the ghosts. Tom Kizzia, Anchorage Daily News, "Amid the ruins of the Kennecott mine, a quiet new look at a unique slice of history," 26 June 2018 Who wouldn't want their first delirious days of companionship to be in the shadow of Mayan ruins or on the white sand shores of Cancun? Author: Wayne And Wanda, Anchorage Daily News, "On vacation, romance sparked with an old friend. Back home, it’s like nothing happened.," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Candice Swanepoel isn’t going to let trolls ruin her beach day. Blake Bakkila,, "This Victoria’s Secret Model’s Bikini Photos Are Proof You Don’t Have to Hide Your Postpartum Belly," 11 July 2018 Old people are regularly financially ruined by the costs of illness. Paul Seward, STAT, "Emergency departments: the ‘chewing gum and duct tape’ holding together U.S. health care," 3 July 2018 Kelly Ripa won’t be letting trolls ruin her vacation. Stephanie Petit,, "Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos Glow in New Vacay Selfie as the Morning Host Hits Back at Commenter," 28 June 2018 But, in further proof that sports are simply a reflection of real life, America botched a gimme and ruined everything. Will Leitch, Daily Intelligencer, "Missing the World Cup Is Like Detention for the United States," 13 June 2018 An occasional check of email or social media is fine, but don’t let your phone ruin your group getaway. Amy Louise Bailey, Vogue, "How to Master the Art of Group Travel," 7 June 2018 Don’t let something out of your control ruin your vacation — always have a backup plan. Juliet Pennington,, "The VIP Lounge with Quiana Holmes, one of the Supremes in ‘Motown the Musical’," 30 May 2018 The trouble is that, in addition to ruining the aesthetic integrity of a piece of art, the adhesive on tape can cause discoloration over time. National Geographic, "Tape Is Ruining Priceless Art. This New Gel Can Fix It.," 23 May 2018 But that second group is ruining the efforts of the first group because some of its overzealous members, beyond staging protests in front of chamber members’ businesses, have resorted to threats of violence and even death. Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press, "Rochelle Riley: Death threats won't end gerrymandering in Michigan," 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ruin

Phrases Related to ruin

go to rack and ruin

in ruins

Statistics for ruin

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ruin

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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