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[dih-struhk-tiv] /dɪˈstrʌk tɪv/
tending to destroy; causing destruction or much damage (often followed by of or to):
a very destructive windstorm.
tending to overthrow, disprove, or discredit (opposed to constructive):
destructive criticism.
Origin of destructive
1480-90; < Middle French < Late Latin dēstructīvus, equivalent to Latin dēstruct(us) (see destruction) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
destructively, adverb
destructiveness, destructivity
[dee-struhk-tiv-i-tee] /ˌdi strʌkˈtɪv ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
interdestructive, adjective
interdestructively, adverb
interdestructiveness, noun
nondestructive, adjective
nondestructively, adverb
nondestructiveness, noun
overdestructive, adjective
overdestructively, adverb
overdestructiveness, noun
semidestructive, adjective
undestructive, adjective
undestructively, adverb
undestructiveness, noun
1. ruinous, deleterious. 2. unfavorable, adverse, negative.
1. creative. 2. constructive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for destructive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As a bit of destructive criticism, this was complete and perfect.

    Recollections of a Varied Life George Cary Eggleston
  • Taboos may be divided into two classes, protective and destructive.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Even when the young trees fail them, and no tender bark is to be had, the Field-mice can still exert their destructive powers.

    Bible Animals; J. G. Wood
  • This pursuit of pleasure for pleasure's sake is delusive and destructive.

    Practical Ethics William DeWitt Hyde
  • Why is it that "the stranger" is associated with revolutions and destructive forces in the group?

British Dictionary definitions for destructive


often postpositive and foll by of or to. causing or tending to cause the destruction (of)
intended to disprove or discredit, esp without positive suggestions or help; negative: destructive criticism Compare constructive (sense 1)
Derived Forms
destructively, adverb
destructiveness, destructivity (ˌdiːstrʌkˈtɪvɪtɪ) noun
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
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Word Origin and History for destructive

late 15c., from Old French destructif (14c.), from Late Latin destructivus, from destruct-, past participle stem of Latin destruere (see destroy).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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