from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The state of being physically destroyed, collapsed, or decayed.
  • noun The state of being extensively harmed or damaged.
  • noun Poverty of bankruptcy.
  • noun A destroyed, collapsed, or decayed building or other physical entity.
  • noun One that has been extensively damaged or harmed.
  • noun A cause of destruction or irreparable harm or loss.
  • transitive verb To cause (a building, for example) to be in a destroyed, collapsed, or decayed state.
  • transitive verb To harm or damage irreparably.
  • transitive verb To reduce to poverty or bankruptcy.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To bring to ruin; cause the downfall, overthrow, or collapse of; damage essentially and irreparably; wreck the material or moral well-being of; demolish; subvert; spoil; undo: as, to ruin a city or a government; to ruin commerce; to ruin one's health or reputation.
  • Specifically, to bring to financial ruin; reduce to a state of bankruptcy or extreme poverty.
  • Synonyms To destroy, overthrow, overturn, overwhelm.
  • To impoverish.
  • To fall headlong and with violence; rush furiously downward.
  • To fall into ruins; run to ruin; fall into decay; be dilapidated.
  • To be overwhelmed by loss, failure, suffering, or the like; be brought to misery or poverty.
  • To inflict ruin; do irreparable harm.
  • noun The act of falling or tumbling down; violent fall.
  • noun A violent or profound change of a thing, such as to unfit it for use, destroy its value, or bring it to an end; overthrow; downfall; collapse; wreck, material or moral: as, the ruin of a government; the ruin of health; financial ruin.
  • noun That which promotes injury, decay, or destruction; bane.
  • noun That which has undergone overthrow, downfall, or collapse; anything, as a building, in a state of destruction, wreck, or decay; hence, in the plural, the fragments or remains of anything overthrown or destroyed: as, the ruins of former beauty; the ruins of Nineveh.
  • noun The state of being ruined, decayed, destroyed, or rendered worthless.
  • noun Synonyms Subversion, wreck, shipwreck, prostration.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To bring to ruin; to cause to fall to pieces and decay; to make to perish; to bring to destruction; to bring to poverty or bankruptcy; to impair seriously; to damage essentially; to overthrow.
  • intransitive verb rare To fall to ruins; to go to ruin; to become decayed or dilapidated; to perish.
  • noun obsolete The act of falling or tumbling down; fall.
  • noun Such a change of anything as destroys it, or entirely defeats its object, or unfits it for use; destruction; overthrow.
  • noun That which is fallen down and become worthless from injury or decay; ; especially, in the plural, the remains of a destroyed, dilapidated, or desolate house, fortress, city, or the like.
  • noun The state of being dcayed, or of having become ruined or worthless.
  • noun That which promotes injury, decay, or destruction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun countable construction withered by time.
  • noun uncountable The state of being a ruin, destroyed or decayed.
  • noun uncountable Something which leads to serious troubles.
  • verb transitive to cause the ruin of.
  • verb To destroy or make something no longer be able to be for good use.
  • verb To upset or mess up the plans or progress of, or to put into disarray; to spoil.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an irrecoverable state of devastation and destruction
  • verb fall into ruin
  • noun the process of becoming dilapidated
  • verb reduce to ruins
  • noun an event that results in destruction
  • verb reduce to bankruptcy
  • verb destroy or cause to fail
  • noun destruction achieved by causing something to be wrecked or ruined
  • noun failure that results in a loss of position or reputation
  • verb destroy completely; damage irreparably
  • verb deprive of virginity
  • noun a ruined building


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English ruine, from Old French, from Latin ruīna, from ruere, to rush, collapse.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English ruine, from Old French ruine, from Latin ruīna ("overthrow, ruin"), from ruō ("I fall down, tumble, sink in ruin, rush").


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  • A poor little sea-wall, never much at its best, sprawled in ruin from the coconut roots to the placid sea.

    CHAPTER XX 2010

  • A poor little sea-wall, never much at its best, sprawled in ruin from the coconut roots to the placid sea.

    Chapter 20 1917

  • She had looked so exceptionally well-dressed the previous evening he had supposed that what she called ruin was comparative affluence, for Bruce had not yet learned that clothes are unsafe standards by which to judge the resources of city folks, just as on the plains and in the mountains faded overalls and a ragged shirt are equally untrustworthy guides to a man's financial rating.

    The Man from the Bitter Roots Caroline Lockhart 1916

  • This hint was enough: the old man capitulated without another opposing argument, and consented to what he termed the ruin of his youngest son.

    Mark Hurdlestone Or, The Two Brothers Susanna Moodie 1844

  • When we look forward with an eye of faith we shall see no reason to envy wicked people their prosperity, for their ruin is at the door and they are ripening apace for it, v. 2.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon) 1721

  • At Tuesday night's regular PUSD board meeting, former CCCS board president Melissa Dewell addressed the district trustees, asking them to intervene in what she calls the ruin of what CCCS parents worked hard to build.

    Paradise Post Most Viewed 2010

  • The public and private edifices, that were founded for eternity, lie prostrate, naked, and broken, like the limbs of a mighty giant; and the ruin is the more visible, from the stupendous relics that have survived the injuries of time and fortune.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1206

  • Which of us would want our lives to lay in ruin while those who are supposed to help are busy fighting over politics, power and property that does not belong to them?

    National Council of Churches 2010

  • America Wake up, A live, bustling country lay in ruin, before your eyes in THIS lifetime – letz stop microwaving our livez and stop and realize what really is going on.

    Matthew Yglesias » Did Haiti Form a Pact With the Devil? 2010

  • Tell me about those labor unions that have sold their own workers a “pipe dream” of health care benefits and pension plans that are in ruin, because some fat-cat union boss KNEW they had the power to exact their agenda on the owners of businesses all across this country.

    Think Progress » Van Jones to Glenn Beck: ‘I see you, and I love you, brother.’ (Updated) 2010


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