Definition of ruin in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈruːɪn/


[mass noun]
1The physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed: a large white house falling into gentle ruin
More example sentences
  • The dozens of sports that set down this weekend left a wake of destruction and ruin.
  • In addition to the physical ruin, there was the collapse of the ideology which had been so prominent.
  • After the destruction and ruin of the war years, and the climate of nationalism which preceded them, many hoped for a new model of political co-operation in Europe.
disintegration, decay, disrepair, dilapidation, falling to pieces, decrepitude, ruination;
destruction, devastation, damage, demolition, wreckage
1.1 [count noun] The remains of a building, typically an old one that has suffered much damage or disintegration: the ruins of the castle the church is a ruin now
More example sentences
  • The ruins of the castle remain atop the hill but provide little protection from the relentless mistral, which constantly whips through its now-exposed cavity.
  • Alexander the Great was unsuccessful in his aims to capture the hilltop fortress here, the ruins of which remain to be explored.
  • The ruins of the apartment buildings were quickly bulldozed after the 1999 bombings.
remains, remnants, fragments, relics, remainder, rubble, debris, detritus, wreckage;
1.2The disastrous disintegration of someone’s life: the ruin and heartbreak wrought by alcohol, divorce, and violence
More example sentences
  • Because such non-moderate behavior could lead to death or ruin, such a risk should not be taken lightly.
  • Even so, I did not leave the young, brown-haired man in complete despair and ruin.
  • Like so many others afflicted with the condition, he seems constantly to seek a way to drink that will not bring trouble and ruin.
1.3The complete loss of one’s money and other assets: the financial cost could mean ruin
More example sentences
  • He said today that he had only avoided such ruin after being left money following the death of his 103-year-old mother.
  • Now comes the news that her shifty lawyer father has only 48 hours to raise a lot of money or face financial ruin and imprisonment.
  • Unfortunately her formal education came to a stop in 1839 as a result of her father's financial ruin and social disgrace.
downfall, collapse, defeat, overthrow, undoing, fall, failure, breakdown, break-up, disintegration, devastation, ruination;
rare labefaction
bankruptcy, insolvency, penury, poverty, destitution, impoverishment, indigence, beggary, financial failure;
disaster, catastrophe, calamity
rare pauperism, pauperdom, mendicity
1.4Something that causes the disintegration of a person’s life or the complete loss of their assets: they don’t know how to say no, and that’s been their ruin
More example sentences
  • Ñusta fell in love with this man, but that was her ruin.
  • It was his intemperance which made him deaf to the appeals of Haemon, and which led him to disregard till it was too late the warnings of Teiresias; it was his intemperance which was his ruin.


1 [with object] Reduce (a building or place) to a state of decay, collapse, or disintegration: (as adjective ruined) a ruined castle
More example sentences
  • The central hub of Bondville is the harbour overlooked by fishing cottages and guest houses as well as the great ruined fortress of Portland Castle.
  • It notes that most people do not have access to safe water, power failures are frequent and the country's landscape still features ruined buildings.
  • Pigeons carry 60 very nasty diseases as well as ruining our buildings and dirtying our pavements with their droppings.
destroy, devastate, lay waste, leave in ruins, wreak havoc on, ravage, leave desolate;
raze, demolish, blast, wreck, wipe out, flatten, level, crush
archaic waste
derelict, in ruins, gone to rack and ruin, dilapidated, ruinous, tumbledown, ramshackle, broken-down, decrepit, in disrepair, falling to pieces, falling apart, crumbling, decaying, disintegrating;
neglected, uncared-for
informal shambly
North American informal shacky
New Zealand informal munted
literary blasted
1.1Cause great and usually irreparable damage or harm to; have a disastrous effect on: a noisy motorway has ruined village life
More example sentences
  • When someone is talking it just ruins the effect.
  • He orders the young man not to look at him either because as client or director this would ruin the effect he wants to achieve.
  • What drives them to subvert science, lie about the sources of the harm done, ruin countless lives?
wreck, destroy, devastate, wreak havoc on, reduce to nothing, damage, spoil, mar, injure, blast, blight, smash, shatter, dash, torpedo, scotch, make a mess of, mess up;
sabotage, poison
informal louse up, screw up, foul up, put the kibosh on, banjax, do for, blow a hole in, nix, queer
British informal scupper, cock up, dish, muller
Australian informal euchre, cruel
vulgar slang fuck up
archaic bring to naught
destroyed, in ruins, in pieces, in ashes, falling down about one's ears;
over, finished, at an end
informal in tatters, in shreds, on the rocks, done for, toast
1.2Reduce to a state of poverty: they were ruined by the highest interest rates this century
More example sentences
  • He was much in demand for occasional music but died in poverty, ruined by his attempts to find the philosopher's stone.
  • Dreverhaven seemingly hinders him at every turn, undermining his successes out of spite, trying to break his will and ruin him financially.
  • Braddock had all his money tied up in stocks and the crash left him ruined.
bankrupt, make bankrupt, cause to go bankrupt, make insolvent, impoverish, reduce to penury/destitution, bring to ruin, bring someone to their knees, wipe out, break, cripple
rare pauperize, beggar
2 [no object] literary Fall headlong or with a crash: carriages go ruining over the brink from time to time


in ruins

In a state of complete disorder or disintegration: the economy was in ruins
More example sentences
  • Built in the late 1400s, this Norman tower house was in ruins when Hurley started his labour of love.
  • As of early June, the town was still in ruins, and no economy activity had resumed.
  • A little girl's Christmas is in ruins after burglars broke into a house and stole her presents.
derelict, ruined, gone to rack and ruin, in disrepair, falling to pieces, falling apart, dilapidated, tumbledown, ramshackle, broken-down, decrepit, decaying, ruinous;
neglected, uncared-for
destroyed, ruined, in pieces, in ashes, falling down about one's ears;
over, finished, at an end
informal in tatters, in shreds, on the rocks, done for, toast


Middle English (in the sense 'collapse of a building'): from Old French ruine, from Latin ruina, from ruere 'to fall'.

Words that rhyme with ruin

bruin, shoo-in

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ruin

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