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 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
2 : a ruined building, person, or object
3a : the action of destroying, laying waste, or wrecking
b : damage, injury
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


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.


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

This is why Progressives (Retrogressives) ruin cities almost always. Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post, "The Technology 202: Venture capitalists aren't laughing about Andrew Yang's 'freedom dividend' proposal," 13 Sep. 2019 However, back-to-back losses after that all but ruined Pasadena’s chances of going to the playoffs. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Pasadena-South Houston series concludes its sixth decade Thursday," 11 Sep. 2019 Riquna Williams hit four 3-pointers and finished with 15 points to help the host Los Angeles Sparks beat Minnesota, 77-68, ruining the Lynx’s chance of hosting a playoff game in the first round., "Team USA surges to Walker Cup crown," 8 Sep. 2019 Instead, on a day when the Browns ruined their own chances, Garrett led the lack of discipline. Doug Lesmerises,, "Cleveland Browns need more production, less frustration, from Myles Garrett," 8 Sep. 2019 Not far away, volunteers from an organization in Aventura were passing out bottled water to families who’d created small piles of ruined furniture and belongings on the curb. Brooke Baitinger,, "Floridians come to Bahamas’ rescue, but aid is slow to reach the suffering," 7 Sep. 2019 About two dozen men and a handful of women trickle into a meeting in the cinderblock town hall, where the team will formally ask for the community's permission to study a cluster of Maya ruins nearby. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "In search of the ‘white Jaguar’: Archaeologists travel deep into the jungle to find a lost Maya city," 5 Sep. 2019 But understand this: Shoddy offensive line play ruined Houston’s chances of a Super Bowl run last year. Andy Benoit,, "An Early Glimpse Into the Rodgers-LaFleur Marriage in Green Bay," 4 Sep. 2019 The same week of the raids, a damning report was published detailing how the same Koch Foods was discriminating against black farmers and ruining their livelihoods in service of gaining a larger foothold in the poultry market. Carmen Rojas, Quartz at Work, "The problem with making “white” synonymous with “America’s working class”," 2 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Days 14-17: The Amazon Rainforest Leave the Sacred Valley behind and travel by private bus deep into the Peruvian Amazon, stopping along the way at magnificent pre-Inca ruins near the colonial outpost of Paucartambo. National Geographic, "Peru and the Amazon Expedition: Inca Wonders and Jungle Wildlife," 10 Sep. 2019 Beyond the main attractions, there are also a number of temple ruins and villages to visit. Emily Selter, Town & Country, "T&C Travel Guide: Angkor Wat Beyond the Temples," 10 Sep. 2019 The Harappans have remained something of a mystery ever since, leaving behind extensive urban ruins and a mysterious language of symbols and drawings, but few additional clues to their identity. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian, "Rare Ancient DNA Provides Window Into a 5,000-Year-Old South Asian Civilization," 5 Sep. 2019 Communications in ruins and basic infrastructure — including shelters, hospitals and public buildings — under water. Elisabeth Malkinand Frances Robles,, "In Bahamas, rescue efforts crippled in ‘crisis of epic proportions’," 3 Sep. 2019 Still, finding a solution for one vehicle would hardly lead to company ruin, Whiston said. Jamie L. Lareau, USA TODAY, "Trump would cost General Motors billions if he actually orders business out of China," 27 Aug. 2019 Despite the restaurant upstairs and doorman below, this feels like having your very own living space overlooking medieval San Teodoro and the Palatine Hill—a privileged, secret location amid the ruins and rooftops of imperial and papal Rome. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "These 6 European Apartments Are Basically Private Design Hotels," 23 Aug. 2019 On certain nights, Elad projects a sound and light show onto the ruins. Rachel Poser, Harper's magazine, "Common Ground," 19 Aug. 2019 Wang’s mother, to this day, remains a believer in how the One-Child Policy rescued China from famine and ruin. Michael Phillips,, "‘One Child Nation’ review: China’s population control policy provokes a gripping personal documentary," 15 Aug. 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

19 Sep 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)

: 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).


concealment of treason or felony

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