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 Frequent messes made by a puppy or kitty can ruin not only your carpet, but the padding and flooring below. Lynn Redmile, Good Housekeeping, "The 2020 Good Housekeeping Top-Tested Cleaning Awards," 8 Apr. 2020 Normally transferring a single patient to the intensive care unit, or watching one die, is enough to ruin her week. Matthew Herper, STAT, "The U.S. gets a D- in the coronavirus fight. That stands for ‘disorganization,’ and it’s fixable," 7 Apr. 2020 Songs about touch and closeness might become viscerally yuckier; exuberant singalongs can ruin the fragile calm of self-quarantine. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "How to Party Alone," 1 Apr. 2020 But please, don't ruin the surprise of our new legislation with Rep. @AOC, @SenJeffMerkley and @RepDarrenSoto. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "'I don't want the dirty fracking industry': Bernie Sanders proposes bill to eliminate fracking," 31 Jan. 2020 Leaving a book open at a single page in a gallery would not allow visitors to appreciate it; letting visitors leaf through it would ruin it. The Economist, "Setting type How the world’s old printing presses are being brought back to life," 18 Dec. 2019 The idea that early failure can ruin a young NFL quarterback? Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kiszla: Would Broncos be better off with Bradley Chubb or Josh Allen on their team? That’s an easy answer.," 20 Nov. 2019 But the extra comfort the pillow provided has ruined me for pillowless flights and cemented my need to include it in my bougie travel kit for any flight over five hours long. Jenny Earnest, Outside Online, "This $30 Piece of Gear Saved My Ass—Literally," 28 Mar. 2020 Game of Thrones quite possibly ruined me forever for stories about scrappy little string beans whose heart and brains win against evil forces. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Letter for the King': TV Review," 20 Mar. 2020 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

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ruin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 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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