Synonym Chooser

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

Thesaurus Entries Near devastate

Cite this Entry

“Devastate.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/devastate. Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on devastate

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