de·​struc·​tive | \ di-ˈstrək-tiv How to pronounce destructive (audio) \

Definition of destructive

1 : causing destruction : ruinous destructive storm
2 : designed or tending to hurt or destroy destructive criticism

Other Words from destructive

destructively adverb
destructiveness noun

Examples of destructive in a Sentence

It was one of the most destructive storms in recent memory. She argued that the law was destructive of personal liberties. The school is concerned about the destructive behavior of a few students.
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Recent Examples on the Web While such a move might be destructive, the aide said, some might be prepared to play that role. Michael Scherer, Tyler Pager And Sean Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News, 20 Nov. 2021 Keep in mind that raccoons are the most opportunistic creatures out there and can be destructive in their quest for the next meal. oregonlive, 30 Oct. 2021 People continue to use these platforms while also understanding how destructive can be. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 27 Oct. 2021 In fact, that’s a practice that companies have sometimes adopted that is quite destructive, for all sorts of reasons. Cassie Werber, Quartz, 25 Oct. 2021 Anyone who plays Mario Kart 8 Deluxe knows how destructive a blue turtle shell can be in destroying families and friendships, and Awkwafina is no exception. Nina Huang,, 22 Oct. 2021 Some are constructive, some are destructive, but most are stymied by a need for security instead of taking the courage to achieve their full potential. Greg Creed, Forbes, 21 Oct. 2021 But despite historically dry conditions, this year’s fire season hasn’t been quite as destructive as last year’s record-shattering season. Yoohyun Jung, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Oct. 2021 The notion was that disease organisms and destructive insects can overwinter in the old leaves, dead flower stalks and other detritus if left in the bed through fall and winter. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 13 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'destructive.' 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 destructive

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for destructive

Time Traveler

The first known use of destructive was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near destructive



destructive distillation

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Statistics for destructive

Last Updated

27 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Destructive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for destructive



English Language Learners Definition of destructive

: causing a very large amount of damage : causing destruction or harm


de·​struc·​tive | \ di-ˈstrək-tiv How to pronounce destructive (audio) \

Kids Definition of destructive

1 : causing great damage or ruin a destructive storm
2 : not positive or helpful destructive criticism

More from Merriam-Webster on destructive

Nglish: Translation of destructive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of destructive for Arabic Speakers


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