demolish

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Attested since the 16th century; 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). Displaced native Old English tōweorpan (literally to throw apart).

Pronunciation[edit]

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

Verb[edit]

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

  1. (literally) To destroy (of buildings, especially in a planned and intentional fashion).
    They demolished the old mill and put up four townhouses.
    • 1961 January, “Talking of Trains: The Severn Bridge disaster”, in Trains Illustrated, page 5:
      The force of the explosion demolished one pair of piers and two spans of the bridge crashed down into the river on top of the barges.
    • 2020 May 6, Graeme Pickering, “Borders Railway: time for the next step”, in Rail, page 53:
      At Hawick, nothing remains of the station, and the viaduct over the River Teviot is one of a number of bridges that were demolished or removed following closure.
  2. (figuratively) To defeat, refute, discredit, 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.
    • 2022 November 30, Paul Bigland, “Destination Oban: a Sunday in Scotland”, in RAIL, number 971, page 74:
      The table opposite me is occupied by a young couple with a table full of alcohol and snacks. In a role reversal, he is drinking Smirnoff Ice while she steadily demolishes a six-pack of lager!

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