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

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 Putting these foods in your refrigerator might ruin them. Joshua Bote, USA TODAY, "Bugs and maggots may crawl out of strawberries washed in salt water. Stay calm, experts say.," 22 May 2020 Chekhov is so great, however, that even uninspired translations can’t ruin him. Bob Blaisdell, The Christian Science Monitor, "Chekhov’s unequaled mastery of the short story," 6 May 2020 What is the point of preserving someone’s life while also ruining it? Soleil Ho,, "The restaurant industry’s moral dilemma amidst pandemic: Stay open or close down," 9 Apr. 2020 But no one person is going to save the ocean or ruin it in a day. Adam Skolnick, Longreads, "The Poke Paradox," 12 Feb. 2020 Family 'trying to ruin me' Knorr, 39, said her decision to divorce her husband has angered him and her father. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Agriculture group puts Arizona lobbyist on leave as lawmaker denies romantic relationship," 22 Jan. 2020 The Kentucky loss puts a damper on the season, but doesn't entirely ruin it. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "What can Louisville football primarily take from the Kentucky loss? Bowl season motivation," 1 Dec. 2019 Local vape shops and a nationwide vaping trade group sued the state, alleging the ban would financially ruin them and was unhelpful for public health., "What do we know about the lung illnesses?," 12 Nov. 2019 So that other standard was applied, one that allowed unsubstantiated allegations to be reported and repeated, endlessly, in an attempt to ruin him and keep him off the Supreme Court. John Kass, Twin Cities, "John Kass: Jeffrey Epstein and Brett Kavanaugh: A tale of double standards," 12 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When Kuperstein was not in the archives, the newlyweds would visit the ruins of Jewish towns throughout Eastern Europe. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Isaiah Kuperstein, Double 8 owner who died of COVID-19, taught at the US Holocaust museum," 13 May 2020 Virtual visitors can trek the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, wander through the astounding rooms in The Vatican or marvel at the Acropolis of Athens' ancient temples. Giovanni Prati, CNN, "Abu Dhabi bets on virtual events to revive tourism," 11 May 2020 Apparently, physicians like me thrive on the financial ruin of our patients and are solely responsible for the rising health care costs in this country. Gregory Jasani, STAT, "Covid-19 has renewed America’s trust in its doctors. Will it fade when the pandemic is over?," 7 May 2020 From Ocean Beach, bike the path next to the Great Highway, or check out the ruins of the Sutro Baths, formerly a public bathhouse. Condé Nast Traveler, "11 Best Beaches in California, From Surfer-Friendly to Cliffside Views," 6 Mar. 2020 Instead, Yocom ventured out into the ruins of the Ranthambore National Park and into its surrounding villages to talk with the people who live among tigers every day. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, "From Louisville's zoo to India's jungle, 3 baby tigers inspire Kentucky author's novel," 13 Jan. 2020 Radiocarbon dates from the ruins suggest Tel Hreiz was inhabited for only 100 to 250 years before people abandoned the site. Megan Gannon, Smithsonian, "Oldest Known Seawall Discovered Along Submerged Mediterranean Villages," 18 Dec. 2019 But the research didn’t quite add up to the real experience: a mash-up of European colonization, the ruins of an ancient civilization and a massive meteorite that made some beautiful swimming holes. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "Explore otherworldly swimming holes and ancient ruins on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula," 7 Dec. 2019 The incredible ruins of an ancient palace in Iraqi Kurdistan have emerged from the waters of the Tigris River. Fox News, "Mysterious 3,400-year-old palace discovered as drought reveals ruins," 2 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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Time Traveler for ruin

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ruin

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ruin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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

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