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 Does someone break into her cabin and ruin her garden to dissuade her from investigating? Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Ottessa Moshfegh’s Pursuit of Disgust," 23 June 2020 Unbeknownst to Dede, Marcus makes six figures writing papers for students across the country — which would ruin Dede’s clean candidate claims., "The Politician season 2 binge recap," 19 June 2020 Examples of disrepair that ruin the park experience are commonplace, advocates say. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Senate poised to pass bill providing billions for maintenance projects at national parks," 17 June 2020 The same is true of doctors: Getting too close to patients can ruin that relationship. Sara Harrison, Wired, "When Doctors and Patients Talk About Death Over Zoom," 15 June 2020 Executives were upset about the newsletter's coverage, so their employees set out to ruin the lives of the couple who ran the website, sending a funeral wreath, bloody pig face Halloween mask and other alarming items to their home, authorities said. Anchorage Daily News, "Former eBay execs charged with harassing bloggers by sending them roaches, spiders and bloody pig mask," 15 June 2020 Mosquitoes can ruin a backyard barbecue or an evening on your patio in just a few minutes. Andrea Beck, Better Homes & Gardens, "This Easy DIY Citronella Candle Will Keep Bugs Away All Summer Long," 5 June 2020 Stress also causes some people to bite their nails, which could easily ruin a hand modeling gig. Bill Sullivan, The Conversation, "Science of ‘Seinfeld’," 5 June 2020 The problem: Pessimism is the outlook that can ruin your positive attitude. Popular Science, "Nine traits that’ll keep you calm in a life-threatening situation," 2 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In addition to claiming the lives of over 110,000 people, throwing the economy into ruin, and putting more than 30 million people out of work, the pandemic has inconvenienced the rich. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "The Pandemic Welfare State for the One Percent," 17 June 2020 Hundreds of them have died without receiving help from the health system, and many families have faced financial ruin due to the cost of trying to care for the ill., "Slowing the coronavirus is speeding the spread of other diseases," 14 June 2020 Each ruin is a monument to a vanished age of America. Chris Malloy, Condé Nast Traveler, "Arizona’s Ghost Towns Are a Natural Escape During Coronavirus," 8 June 2020 After taking the helm at AMD in 2014, Su took a company on the verge of financial ruin and turned it into a top performer in the S&P 500 and a formidable competitor to Intel. Clare Duffy, CNN, "AMD's Lisa Su was the highest-paid CEO in the S&P 500 last year," 1 June 2020 Inside the eight desperate weeks that saved SpaceX from ruin Two human lives, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, hung in the balance. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "“The trampoline is working”—SpaceX returns human spaceflight to America," 30 May 2020 The upheaval has unfolded amid the gloom and economic ruin caused by the coronavirus, which has killed over 100,000 Americans and sent unemployment soaring to levels not seen since the Depression. Anchorage Daily News, "US heads into a new week shaken by violence and frustration," 1 June 2020 Further Reading Inside the eight desperate weeks that saved SpaceX from ruinTwo human lives, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, hung in the balance. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "“The trampoline is working”—SpaceX returns human spaceflight to America," 30 May 2020 Debris could be seen arcing away and when the flames finally died down, the prototype had been destroyed and its firing stand left in smoking ruin. William Harwood, CBS News, "SpaceX Starship prototype explodes after engine test firing in Texas," 29 May 2020

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

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ruin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 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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