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

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 Even though the famous city has an important place in history, centuries of building has covered over many of the ruins and millions of people now live and work on top of what was once founded by Alexander the Great. Abigail Abrams, Time, "A Mysterious Sarcophagus That May Not Have Been Opened in 2,000 Years Was Found in Egypt," 14 July 2018 The Spanish tore down the Templo Mayor and the tzompantli in front of it, paved over the ruins, and built what would become Mexico City. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "Feeding the gods: Hundreds of skulls reveal massive scale of human sacrifice in Aztec capital," 21 June 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. 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Nearly all of her belongings, including keepsakes from her son's music career, were ruined. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Devastating Photos Show Luke Bryan's Mother's Home Destroyed By Hurricane Michael," 23 Oct. 2018 One bad episode shouldn’t ruin a good relationship. Marie G. Mcintyre, The Seattle Times, "Manager stunned by trusty employee’s complaints," 22 Oct. 2018 The Possession of Hannah Grace hits theaters on November 30, just in time to completely ruin that post-Thanksgiving happy feeling. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "Shay Mitchell's New Thriller "The Possession of Hannah Grace" Releases First Trailer," 15 Oct. 2018 Javier Zarracina/Vox America’s plan to ruin China’s economy, explained Three sources familiar with the Trump administration’s economic strategy toward China tell me that the White House has two main objectives in the trade war. Alex Ward, Vox, "Trump’s China strategy is the most radical in decades — and it’s failing," 18 Sep. 2018 Maybe it can even be adopted to ruin another beloved children's puzzle? Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "This AI-Powered Robot Can Find Waldo Instantly," 11 Aug. 2018 Other than providing the opportunity for some boisterous and bravura acting, this creates the notion of the forebears haunting the villains that lead their company to ruin. Demetrios Matheou, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Lehman Trilogy': Theater Review," 13 July 2018 When, for example, the Republican stronghold of Guernica was bombed to ruin in 1937 (the subject of Picasso’s famous antiwar painting), the assault was carried out at Franco’s request by warplanes that Hitler and Mussolini had dispatched. Matías Costa, Smithsonian, "The Battle Over the Memory of the Spanish Civil War," 28 June 2018 The hero only visits Mariah, who spends season 2 executing restaurants full of people and waging a general reign of terror, to ask her not to ruin his hard work., "What That Disappointing Luke Cage Ending Means For The Future," 27 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

13 Nov 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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a private place of worship

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