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  1. a person or thing that destroys.
  2. a fast, relatively small, warship armed mainly with 5-inch (13-cm) guns.

Origin of destroyer

1350–1400; Middle English destroiere (compare Old French destruiere). See destroy, -er1
Related formsself-de·stroy·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for destroyer


  1. a small fast lightly armoured but heavily armed warship
  2. a person or thing that destroys
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for destroyer


late 14c., "someone or something that destroys," agent noun from Old French destruire (see destroy). As a type of warship, 1893, originally torpedo-boat destroyer; the class name perhaps from the proper name given to one such ship in the U.S. Navy in 1882.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper