ru·​in | \ ˈrü-ən How to pronounce ruin (audio) , -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 How to pronounce ruinate (audio) , -​nət \ adjective
ruinate \ ˈrü-​ə-​ˌnāt How to pronounce ruinate (audio) \ 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

Temple mystery But the mystery of the submerged ruins in Lake Iznik may be even older than Christianity. Tom Metcalfe, Fox News, "Ancient church hidden in Turkish lake and a Pagan temple may lie beneath it," 6 Sep. 2018 Morrison is a poet of ruin and one of the movies’ most ardent and unique visual artists. Ty Burr,, "A guide to on-demand treasures," 31 May 2018 The windows reveal only the cold blue winter sky; sets of chimneys stand perfectly erect in defiance of the hollow ruin within the high walls of stone. David Usborne, Town & Country, "The Mysterious Case of the Parnham House Fire," 29 May 2018 The trail starts by crossing a Bollman Truss bridge — the last iron bridge of its kind in the country — and hikers have views of historic ruins from the 1800s textile mill along the path. Sarah Meehan, Howard County Times, "Howard County's best paths for spring hikes and bikes," 3 May 2018 Decaying from fire damage, and basically in ruins, the 210,875-square-meter plot is currently owned by the Crown Prince of Johar, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim—and looks nothing like the Young estate. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "The Real-Life Inspo For the Home in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is Worth Billions," 26 Feb. 2019 The estate was in ruins when Bottura and his wife, Lara Gilmore, acquired it. Kristina O’neill, WSJ, "WSJ. Magazine Editor’s Letter: Ripeness Is All," 15 Feb. 2019 Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, Spain Medina Azahara was built between 940 and 975 C.E. as the seat of the Caliphate of Córdoba (a state in what was formerly Islamic Iberia)—only to be attacked and left in ruins a few decades later. Condé Nast Traveler, "The 19 Newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites," 10 July 2018 The fire’s spread was stopped at about 100 acres (40.5 hectares) in a neighborhood where some houses were in ruins while homes next door were intact. Washington Post, "Wildfires rage through California amid heat rage," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While the change is a win for body positivity, fatphobic trolls have stepped in to ruin everyone's fun. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, ""She-Ra" Fans Defend Plus-Sized Spinnerella Following Fat-Shaming Backlash," 15 Nov. 2018 Or, like Tom suggested, was the show just really not wanting to ruin the joyous mood of Disney night with bad news? Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "This Is Why No One Went Home on 'Dancing With the Stars' Last Night," 23 Oct. 2018 Tom Branson tries to ruin dinner in the name of socialism. Tom Fitzgerald And Lorenzo Marquez, Town & Country, "The 10 Best Downton Abbey Episodes," 12 Sep. 2018 Midway through the discussion, Putin turned directly to McFaul and berated him for trying to ruin United States-Russia relations. Daniel Beer, New York Times, "Does Vladimir Putin Speak for the Russian People?," 6 July 2018 Because Cartagena is so near the [Caribbean Sea], things get ruined in such a short time. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "This Colombian Fashion Designer Brings a Sophisticated Spirit Into Her Cartagena Home," 9 Aug. 2018 Avocados ruin everything: Millennials’ financial prospects, proposals, the environment, and now, Joy Behar’s hand. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Joy Behar Injured in Bloody Avocado Accident," 12 June 2018 The only thing that ruined the plan was an iceberg. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Wild Conspiracy That the Titanic Never Sank," 27 Feb. 2019 Among the lowlights have been a 31-pitch, four-run fifth inning in a loss to the Washington Nationals last week and a 7-3 defeat Sunday against the Atlanta Braves that ruined a potential road sweep. Katherine Fominykh,, "With Orioles reeling, right-hander David Hess hopes to put Angels 'on the defensive'," 29 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

1 May 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)

: 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 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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