Synonyms & Antonyms of devastate

1 to bring destruction to (something) through violent action
  • the city was devastated, first by the earthquake and then by fires

Synonyms for devastate

Words Related to devastate

Near Antonyms for devastate

2 to bring to a complete end the physical soundness, existence, or usefulness of
  • the explosion devastated an entire city block

Synonyms for devastate

Words Related to devastate

Near Antonyms for devastate

Antonyms for devastate

3 to subject to incapacitating emotional or mental stress
  • we were devastated by the awful news of his death

Synonyms for devastate

Words Related to devastate

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Frequently Asked Questions About devastate

How does the verb devastate contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of devastate are despoil, pillage, ravage, sack, and waste. While all these words mean "to lay waste by plundering or destroying," devastate implies the complete ruin and desolation of a wide area.

an earthquake devastated the city

In what contexts can despoil take the place of devastate?

While the synonyms despoil and devastate are close in meaning, despoil applies to looting or robbing without suggesting accompanying destruction.

the Nazis despoiled the art museums

How are the words pillage and sack related as synonyms of devastate?

Pillage implies ruthless plundering at will but without the completeness suggested by sack.

settlements pillaged by Vikings

When would ravage be a good substitute for devastate?

The words ravage and devastate are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, ravage implies violent often cumulative depredation and destruction.

a hurricane ravaged the coast

Where would sack be a reasonable alternative to devastate?

Although the words sack and devastate have much in common, sack implies carrying off all valuable possessions from a place.

barbarians sacked ancient Rome

When is waste a more appropriate choice than devastate?

While in some cases nearly identical to devastate, waste may imply producing the same result by a slow process rather than sudden and violent action.

years of drought had wasted the area

Learn More About devastate

Time Traveler for devastate

Time Traveler

The first known use of devastate was in 1638

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Thesaurus Entries Near devastate




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Cite this Entry

“Devastate.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on devastate

Nglish: Translation of devastate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of devastate for Arabic Speakers


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