Definitions

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

  • noun A mechanism for causing a device to destroy itself.
  • intransitive verb To destroy oneself or itself.

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

  • verb To destroy oneself.

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

  • verb do away with oneself or itself

Etymologies

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

[Back-formation from self-destruction.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

self- +‎ destruct

Examples

  • Bonjean said Romney clearly wants to let Perry "walk out on his own plank with his own saw" -- in other words, self-destruct.

    FOXNews.com

  • I watched one remarkable president, Lyndon Johnson, self-destruct because he could not level with the American people about a war he was waging in their name.

    The Good Fight

  • I watched one remarkable president, Lyndon Johnson, self-destruct because he could not level with the American people about a war he was waging in their name.

    The Good Fight

  • I watched one remarkable president, Lyndon Johnson, self-destruct because he could not level with the American people about a war he was waging in their name.

    The Good Fight

  • A siren blared through the halls, indicating that the self-destruct had been initiated.

    NaNoWriMo: Evacuation « The Graveyard

  • A siren blared through the halls, indicating that the self-destruct had been initiated.

    2009 November « The Graveyard

  • The distinction between "celebrity" and "star" was quite different in those days, and while there have always been actors who self-destruct, watching it happen today seems to have become almost a blood sport.

    Maria Cooper Janis: Gary Cooper: A Father, a Man, an American

  • Cuomo has mostly been able to kickback and watch Paladino's campaign self-destruct.

    NYC Elections 2010: Last Minute Voter Guide To Crucial Races

  • Maybe s/he will be so nutty, so unreasonable, so vile, that, assuming you're not equally horrible justifying a "plague on both your houses" mentality by the judge, s/he will self-destruct.

    Terri Weiss: The Crux of Divorce Decisions is The Smell Test

  • Maybe s/he will be so nutty, so unreasonable, so vile, that, assuming you're not equally horrible justifying a "plague on both your houses" mentality by the judge, s/he will self-destruct.

    Terri Weiss: The Crux of Divorce Decisions is The Smell Test

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • I just realized this is a back-formation from self-destruction. After all, there is no word "to destruct". Doesn't someone have a list of back-formations where this belongs?

    November 28, 2009

  • Actually, the O.E.D. lists a verb 'to destruct' (defined as equivalent to destroy) with destructed attested in an example from before 1638, but it does have the note: 'Quot. a1638 is an isolated use. The recent (chiefly U.S.) use in Rocketry is prob. in part a back-formation on DESTRUCTION.' So probably and in part you're right.

    November 28, 2009

  • Added to my list - thanks, rolig!

    November 28, 2009

  • I have one too--added.

    December 1, 2009

  • I came here to comment on how "destruct" isn't a verb, only to find that my fellow Wordniks already cleared up this issue, five years ago. I love this site and the people on it!

    October 30, 2014