de·​stroy | \ di-ˈstrȯi How to pronounce destroy (audio) , dē- \
destroyed; destroying; destroys

Definition of destroy

transitive verb

1 : to ruin the structure, organic existence, or condition of destroyed the files also : to ruin as if by tearing to shreds their reputation was destroyed a disease that destroys the body's ability to fight off illness destroyed any hope of a return to past crackdowns … — George Brock
2a : to put out of existence : kill destroy an injured horse
b : neutralize the moon destroys the light of the stars
c : annihilate, vanquish armies had been crippled but not destroyed— W. L. Shirer

intransitive verb

: to cause ruin or destruction it is proverbially easier to destroy than to construct— T. S. Eliot

Examples of destroy in a Sentence

Eventually our problems with money destroyed our marriage. All the files were deliberately destroyed. The disease destroys the body's ability to fight off illness. The bomb blast destroyed the village. The dog had to be destroyed since its owner could not prevent it from attacking people.
Recent Examples on the Web Going into a family business has the potential to destroy family relationships. Rohit Arora, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 China also faced criticism after using a missile to destroy one of its defunct weather satellites in 2007, creating a field of debris that other governments said might jeopardize other satellites., 31 July 2022 Roy Temple, a longtime Democratic media consultant in Missouri who is working for Ms. Busch Valentine, cast Mr. Greitens as a Frankenstein monster that the Republican Party created and now is trying frantically to destroy. Lindsay Wise, WSJ, 30 July 2022 Mars Ingenuity helicopter has continued to destroy its own records. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 28 July 2022 How did California go from paying hunters to destroy mountain lions to spending millions protecting them? Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 28 July 2022 Speaking of trees, the famed mural atop the bar didn’t fit with the new décor, but the owners didn’t want to destroy it. Marc Bona, cleveland, 26 July 2022 Asked if current rules of engagement restrictions should be lifted barring U.S.-supplied weapons for striking targets inside Russian territory, Waltz said there were plenty of targets inside Ukraine to destroy first. Melissa Chrise, Fox News, 24 July 2022 Just because Greg Norman wants to destroy the PGA Tour, doesn’t mean there aren’t aspects of it that ought to be dynamited on merit. Eamon Lynch, USA TODAY, 24 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'destroy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of destroy

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for destroy

Middle English, from Anglo-French destroy-, destrui-, stem of destrure, from Vulgar Latin *destrugere, alteration of Latin destruere, from de- + struere to build — more at structure

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The first known use of destroy was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Destroy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for destroy


de·​stroy | \ di-ˈstrȯi How to pronounce destroy (audio) \
destroyed; destroying

Kids Definition of destroy

1 : to put an end to : do away with destroy a building destroy a dream
2 : kill entry 1 sense 1 Officials destroyed the diseased animals.

More from Merriam-Webster on destroy

Nglish: Translation of destroy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of destroy for Arabic Speakers


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