ru·​in | \ ˈrü-ən How to pronounce ruin (audio) , -ˌin; ˈrün\
ruined\ ˈrü-​ənd How to pronounce ruined (audio) , -​ˌind ; ˈründ , dialectal  ˈrü-​ənt How to pronounce ruined (audio) , -​ˌint ; ˈrünt \; ruining; ruins

Definition of ruin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to damage irreparably
b : bankrupt, impoverish ruined by stock speculation
2 : to subject to frustration, failure, or disaster will ruin your chances of promotion
3 : to reduce to ruins : devastate

intransitive verb

: to become ruined



Definition of ruin (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the state of being ruined archaic except in pluralthe city lay in ruins
b : the remains of something destroyed usually used in pluralthe ruins of an ancient templethe ruins of his life
2 : a ruined building, person, or object
3a : the action of destroying, laying waste, or wrecking
4a : physical, moral, economic, or social collapse
b archaic : a falling down : collapse from age to age … the crash of ruin fitfully resounds— William Wordsworth
5 : a cause of destruction

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Other Words from ruin


ruiner noun


ruinate \ ˈrü-​ə-​ˌnāt How to pronounce ruinate (audio) , -​nət \ adjective
ruinate \ ˈrü-​ə-​ˌnāt How to pronounce ruinate (audio) \ transitive verb

Examples of ruin in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Defenders say she is being unfairly scapegoated, when others with ties to Epstein have barely faced censure, let alone ruin. Ben Widdicombe, Town & Country, "Tarnished by Epstein Scandal, Power Publicist Peggy Siegal Attempts a Hollywood Comeback," 6 Nov. 2019 Now Jason Farago, an art critic for the New York Times, is arguing that the painting should be taken down, as its place in the museum is ruining the experience of visiting the museum. Kaitlin Menza, House Beautiful, "A New York Times Critic Suggested the Mona Lisa Be Taken Down," 6 Nov. 2019 The right sports bra can be a game changer for your workouts—and the wrong sports bra can be workout ruining. SELF, "The 16 Best New Sports Bras of 2019," 5 Nov. 2019 Gatto's advice for tourists to the wine region going forward: If blackouts or wildfires ruin your planes, still come to a different part of California. Jessica Puckett, Condé Nast Traveler, "What Travelers to California's Wine Country Need to Know About the Power Outages and Wildfires," 4 Nov. 2019 Remember when Rachel ruined the British trifle by putting beef in it? Abby Gardner, Glamour, "The One Where Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon Take a Friends Quiz," 2 Nov. 2019 Normally, heat stress is horrible for a plant (or a person), as hot temperatures under a consistent amount of time can ruin a crop. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Can Scientists Evolve the Next Great Beer?," 13 Oct. 2019 In mass-market retail, the company with the thinnest margin usually prevails, and a soft December can ruin a year. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan," 10 Oct. 2019 Logano and Elliott both had their races ruined before the race even finished 10 laps. Dan Gelston,, "Kyle Larson earns spot in 3rd round of NASCAR playoff with Dover victory," 6 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Now those buildings are in ruins, with eucalyptus trees growing through their centers. Kathleen Pender,, "Wine Country rarity: Vast southern Napa properties go on sale," 9 Nov. 2019 Medical costs need to be reined in to protect Americans from the threat of financial ruin. Ray Kluender, Houston Chronicle, "The worst part about getting sick isn’t medical bills," 11 Oct. 2019 Matta Clark’s inference — that everything is temporary, and disposable — first made in the ’70s, now feels like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, with a planet poised at the edge of ruin., "ALICJA KWADE: IN BETWEEN GLANCES," 11 Oct. 2019 Disaster strikes when Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp sail into a hurricane that leaves their boat in ruins. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV for Oct. 6-12: ‘Throne of Blood’ and more," 4 Oct. 2019 The suit filed in Los Angeles County on Monday claims that Echo Fox partner Amit Raizada used investor funds for personal use in a complex scheme that has left the company on the brink of ruin. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Rick Fox sues esports team partners, alleges rampant fraud," 2 Oct. 2019 Put simply, Biden’s plan would leave law-abiding citizens outgunned in their own homes by predatory criminals, and place virtually every gun-maker at risk of financial ruin. David French, National Review, "Joe Biden’s Gun-Control Plan Is a Constitutional and Moral Disaster," 2 Oct. 2019 The mill closed in 1904, where its components lay dismantled and in ruins through today. Caitlin Anderson, Twin Cities, "Stillwater mill ruins uncovered; cleanup part of initiative to preserve historical resources," 26 Sep. 2019 And Chicago Public Schools was on the brink of financial ruin just a few years ago. Lisa Donovan,, "The Spin: Chicago police, Mayor Lightfoot and who’s ‘sorry’ now," 25 July 2019

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


1572, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4b

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

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for ruin

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

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More Definitions for ruin


How to pronounce ruin (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ruin

 (Entry 1 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.



English Language Learners Definition of ruin (Entry 2 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.


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

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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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