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From Middle English destroyen, from Old French destruire, Vulgar Latin *destrugō, from Classical Latin dēstruō, from dē- (un-, de-) + struō (I build).


  • IPA(key): /dɪˈstɹɔɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔɪ
  • Hyphenation: de‧stroy


destroy (third-person singular simple present destroys, present participle destroying, simple past and past participle destroyed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To damage beyond use or repair; to damage (something) to the point that it effectively ceases to exist.
    The earthquake destroyed several apartment complexes.
    Hooligans destroy unprovoked.
  2. (transitive) To neutralize, undo a property or condition.
    Smoking destroys the natural subtlety of the palate.
  3. (transitive) To put down or euthanize.
    Destroying a rabid dog is required by law.
  4. (transitive) To severely disrupt the well-being of (a person); ruin.
    Her divorce destroyed her; she had a nervous breakdown and was severely depressed for more than a year.
    • 2005, Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide:
      Other girls in the foster home are eager to destroy her and get her kicked out of the place. It's a tough situation.
  5. (transitive, informal) To utterly defeat; to crush.
    Remember when Germany destroyed Brazil 7–1 in the World Cup?
  6. (transitive, computing) To remove data.
    The memory leak happened because we forgot to destroy the temporary lists.
  7. (transitive, bodybuilding, slang, antiphrasis) To exhaust completely and thus recreate or build up.
    This exercise is going to destroy all parts of your shoulders.
  8. (transitive, slang, vulgar) To penetrate sexually in an aggressive way.
    She got destroyed by her lover on the carpet.
  9. (transitive, US, slang) To sing a song extremely poorly.
    • 2001, Jeff Nathanson, Rush Hour 2[2], New Line Cinema:
      JAMES CARTER: The man's destroying a classic!


See Thesaurus:destroy.


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