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

There’s more history on the other end of the line, at Mill City ruins in Minneapolis. Kathy Berdan, Twin Cities, "It’s not over yet! 19 things to do in summer 2019," 5 July 2019 Many of the buildings became roofless husks, toothless mouths, ruins. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "The Airplanes That Rescue Ebola Patients," 5 July 2019 However, the two mixed in an unprecedented way when ancient ruins were discovered under what would become the Antakya Museum Hotel in Turkey. Fox News, "How a luxury hotel was built over newly-discovered ancient ruins," 26 June 2019 But Billy calms his mates, saving the captain from potential ruin. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, "Review: A 1951 opera is making a comeback because it’s, you know, a little gay," 21 June 2019 In the massacre’s aftermath, 35 city blocks were left in charred ruins and 10,000 people were homeless. Teen Vogue, "Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, Explained," 31 May 2019 The spooky funhouse is a wonderland of ruin, marvelous to look at, but not built for speed. Andrea Simakis,, "'Misery' at Great Lakes Theater: Despite top-notch cast and a spooky set, it's under rather than over-the-top (review)," 22 Feb. 2018 The cabinets and tile in that space escaped ruin, but the main part of the kitchen had to be gutted and rebuilt — again. Marni Elyse Katz,, "Trees made them fall in love with this house in Milton," 20 June 2019 Now, a muralist is aiming to help the community heal by using ruins as his canvas., "Today: Who Could Best Dump Trump?," 19 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Demonstrators, including loggers and truckers who said they'd be financially ruined by carbon cap, protested on behalf of the absent senators. NBC News, "GOP senator faces hearing after threats to state police: 'Come heavily armed'," 5 July 2019 After a two-day bench trial, Real deemed Dubin guilty and the attorney spent more than a year and a half in federal prison, during which his house fell into foreclosure and his credit was ruined. Dorany Pineda,, "Manuel L. Real, judge who helped desegregate Southern California schools, dies at 95," 1 July 2019 Recommended Reading • Five years ago, Alex Rodriguez thought he was ruined. The Si Staff,, "What Is It Like to Follow A-Rod Around for a Week?," 28 June 2019 Ida Tarbell’s father was ruined by Standard Oil, which motivated her to write her classic work exposing the company’s transgressions. Scott Sherman, The New York Review of Books, "A Muckraker’s Progress," 17 June 2019 Europeans wanted bread, too, since many of their fields had been ruined in the First World War. Kevin Baker, Harper's magazine, "Where Our New World Begins," 10 May 2019 The previous record was set at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, but that has been ruined by techbros living out post-apocalyptic fantasies at Burning Man. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "1,000mph land speed record project now in doubt due to funding woe," 15 Oct. 2018 The term was first coined on Twitter in 2016, but has gained traction over the past two years as, time and time again, a good viral moment is ruined by its inevitably dark underbelly. Kathryn Lindsay,, "There's No Such Thing As A "Good" Viral Moment Anymore," 10 July 2018 Stay at Hoshinoya Tokyo, and be ruined on hotels for the rest of your life. Natalie B. Compton, GQ, "Why Your Trip to Tokyo Should Be All About the Japanese Whisky," 25 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

10 Jul 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

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).


to complain fretfully

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