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Attested since the 16th century CE; from Middle French demoliss-, the stem of some conjugated forms of the verb demolir (to destroy”, “to tear down), from Latin dēmōlior (I tear down).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /dəˈmɒl.ɪʃ/
  • (file)


demolish (third-person singular simple present demolishes, present participle demolishing, simple past and past participle demolished)

  1. To destroy.
    They demolished the old mill and put up four townhouses.
  2. (transitive, figuratively) To defeat or consume utterly (as a theory, belief or opponent).
    • 1992, Robert Rankin, The Antipope (page 68)
      The Captain folded his brow into a look of intense perplexity. 'You seem exceedingly spry for a man who demolished an entire bottle of brandy and better part of an ounce of shag in a single evening.'
      'And very nice too,' said the tramp. 'Now as to breakfast?'
    • 2011 October 2, Kevin Core, “Fulham 6 - 0 QPR”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Andrew Johnson scored a hat-trick as Fulham demolished London rivals Queens Park Rangers to win their Premier League fixture of the season.


Related terms[edit]



  • demolish” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.