Definition of destroy in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈstrɔɪ/


[with object]
1End the existence of (something) by damaging or attacking it: the room had been destroyed by fire
More example sentences
  • Attack operations can also contribute to preventing future attacks by destroying launchers after firing but before reuse.
  • Mr Browne said if a plantation is destroyed or damaged by fire, the incident should be reported to the nearest Garda station and to the Forest Service.
  • Mr Roebuck said the latest car fire had destroyed one vehicle and damaged two others parked near to it.
demolish, knock down, pull down, tear down, level, raze (to the ground), fell, dismantle, break up, wreck, ruin, smash, shatter, crash, blast, blow up, blow to bits/pieces, dynamite, explode, bomb, torpedo
spoil, ruin, wreck, disfigure, blight, mar, blemish, impair, flaw, deface, scar, injure, harm, devastate, damage, lay waste, ravage, wreak havoc on
literary waste
rare disfeature
wreck, ruin, spoil, disrupt, undo, upset, play havoc with, make a mess of, put an end to, end, bring to an end, put a stop to, terminate, prevent, frustrate, blight, crush, quell, quash, dash, scotch, shatter, vitiate, blast, devastate, demolish, sabotage, torpedo;
upset someone's apple cart, cook someone's goose
informal mess up, muck up, screw up, louse up, foul up, make a hash of, do in, put paid to, put the lid on, put the kibosh on, do for, scupper, dish, stymie, queer, nix, banjax, blow a hole in
British informal throw a spanner in the works of, muller
North American informal throw a monkey wrench in the works of
Australian informal euchre, cruel
vulgar slang bugger up, fuck up, balls up
archaic bring to naught
1.1Ruin (someone) emotionally or spiritually: he has been determined to destroy her
More example sentences
  • Not content to destroy us emotionally, physically and spiritually, they also had to take us down calligraphically too.
  • Prostitution is a system of slavery that emotionally, spiritually and physically destroys women and girls.
  • Hugo's deep-seated jealousy of O drives him to set in motion a plan to destroy him by ruining his relationship with Desi.
1.2Defeat (someone) utterly: Northants have the batting to destroy anyone
More example sentences
  • And that is ‘to chase the enemy to the ends of the earth and utterly destroy him’.
  • War, its violence previously contained within law, spilled out to an attempt to utterly destroy the enemy.
  • No matter how many times the CPU seemingly cheated, or a friend managed to utterly destroy me using a lameass starter deck, I kept putting the game back in.
annihilate, wipe out, obliterate, wipe off the face of the earth, wipe off the map, eliminate, eradicate, liquidate, extinguish, finish off, erase, root out, extirpate;
kill, slaughter, massacre, butcher, exterminate, decimate
informal take out, rub out, snuff out, zap
North American informal waste
defeat utterly, beat hollow, win a resounding victory over, annihilate, vanquish, drub, trounce, rout, crush, give someone a drubbing, overwhelm
informal lick, thrash, hammer, clobber, paste, give someone a pasting, whip, pound, pulverize, demolish, wipe the floor with, take to the cleaners, make mincemeat of, slaughter, murder, massacre, crucify, flatten, turn inside out, run rings around
British informal stuff, marmalize
North American informal shellac, blow out, cream, skunk
US informal own
1.3Kill (a sick, savage, or unwanted animal) by humane means: their terrier was destroyed after the attack
More example sentences
  • The spirit of the Whitehall farce is demonstrated in an incident ten days ago when a Cumbrian farmer was about to witness eight slaughtermen start to destroy his sheep flock.
  • She took the dog and had it destroyed by the Humane Society.
  • The government announced last week that it planned to destroy all sheep and pigs within three kilometers of any confirmed outbreak in those areas.
kill, kill off, put down, put to sleep, slaughter, terminate, exterminate


Middle English: from Old French destruire, based on Latin destruere, from de- (expressing reversal) + struere 'build'.

  • The word destroy comes via Old French from Latin destruere, from de- (expressing reversal) and struere ‘build’.

Words that rhyme with destroy

ahoy, alloy, Amoy, annoy, boy, buoy, cloy, coy, employ, enjoy, Hanoi, hoi polloi, hoy, Illinois, joy, koi, oi, ploy, poi, Roy, savoy, soy, tatsoi, toy, trompe l'œil, troy

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: des|troy

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