views updated May 14 2018

de·stroy / diˈstroi/ • v. [tr.] put an end to the existence of (something) by damaging or attacking it: the room had been destroyed by fire. ∎  completely ruin or spoil (something): she had destroyed his dreams. ∎  ruin (someone) emotionally or spiritually: he has been determined to destroy her. ∎  defeat (someone) utterly: the Tigers destroyed the Padres in five games. ∎  (usu. be destroyed) kill (a sick, savage, or unwanted animal) by humane means: their terrier was destroyed after the attack.


views updated Jun 27 2018


In general, to ruin completely; may include a taking. To ruin the structure, organic existence, or condition of a thing; to demolish; to injure or mutilate beyond possibility of use; to nullify.

As used in policies of insurance, in leases, and in maritime law, and under various statutes, this term is often applied to an act that renders the subject useless for its intended purpose, though it does not literally demolish or annihilate it.

In relation to wills, contracts, and other documents, the term destroy does not mean the annihilation of the instrument or its resolution into other forms of matter, but a destruction of its legal efficacy, which may be by cancellation, obliterating, tearing into fragments, and so on.


views updated May 17 2018

destroy XIII. ME. destru(i)(e), destr(o)ie — OF. destruire (mod. détruire) :- Rom. *dēstrūgere, for L. dēstruere, f. DE- 6 + struere pile up.
Hence destroyer XIV. So destruction XIV. — (O)F. — L. destructive XV. — (O)F. — late L.