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

Stay at a National Geographic Unique Lodge, built from the ruins of a medieval kasbah. National Geographic, "Morocco High School Community Service," 12 June 2019 Iran and Tunisia Jerry SorkinIconic Journeys WorldwideHe’s got decades of experience in North Africa and the Middle East, and has fixers who can speak to everything from ancient ruins to contemporary politics. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "2018 Top Travel Specialists We Trust," 19 Oct. 2018 The Minnesota Historical Society has decided this is the last production for Mill City Summer Opera amid the mill ruins. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Review: ‘Cosi fan tutte’ refuses to wilt on humid, stormy night," 15 July 2019 Coastal erosion and sea level rise can swamp ruins. Stephanie Pappas, Scientific American, "Viking History Is Melting Away in Greenland," 11 July 2019 Extraction industries are largely a scam through which wealthy people remove value from a region and leave behind social and environmental ruin. David Roberts, Vox, "Coal left Appalachia devastated. Now it’s doing the same to Wyoming.," 9 July 2019 Allied bombers dropped 165 bombs on the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, and at least seven of them may still lie buried and unexploded amid the ruins. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Unexploded World War II bombs may still be buried at Pompeii," 8 July 2019 On a National Geographic Expedition, go beyond the natural splendor and witness ancient ruins like those of Volubilis, explore the historic city of Fez, and meander the medinas of Marrakech. Kelly Barrett, National Geographic, "Flower power: 10 of the world's best destinations for blooms," 7 July 2019 Lush vegetation spills over ancient ruins in the drawings. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Discovering Maurice Sendak, the Opera Designer," 27 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

It was surprisingly ended by Jess of all people, who scolded the mothers for risking ruining the legacy left behind by JoJo and her fellow team mates. Laura Hanrahan, Woman's Day, "Watch 'Dance Moms' Stars Elliana Walmsley and Lilly Ketchman Recreate Jojo Siwa’s Solos," 27 July 2019 Absent any evidence, a boy is still dead and an innocent man’s livelihood was all but ruined by zealous authorities. Hank Stuever, Washington Post, "‘Who Killed Garrett Phillips?’ is a masterful study in the evils of assumptions," 22 July 2019 Springs and steering alignments get ruined by potholes. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: New gas taxes are needed; here’s why," 14 July 2019 Choose Resilient Surfaces Sticky fingers can ruin a silk mohair in seconds flat. Ariel Okin, Vogue, "How to Babyproof Your Home Without Sacrificing Style," 9 July 2019 Demonstrators, including loggers and truckers who said they’d be financially ruined by carbon cap, protested on behalf of the absent senators. Andrew Selsky, The Seattle Times, "Oregon senator, a war veteran, now under fire for threats," 8 July 2019 The real problem is that ship’s electronics, electrical equipment, fixtures and weapons systems are all ruined by saltwater contamination and would need replacing. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Norway’s Ruined Frigate Is Afloat Again and It Doesn't Look Good," 15 Apr. 2019 At or before a game’s release, when reviews are most in demand, some readers can be paranoid about having even the tiniest plot details ruined for them by a casual mention in a review. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Observations and lessons from two decades of writing about video games," 25 Nov. 2018 This left aides worried that the whole summit might be ruined by Trump’s impatience. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Thought North Korea’s State TV Was Even Better Than Fox: Report," 15 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

7 Aug 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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