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[roo-uh-nuh s] /ˈru ə nəs/
bringing or tending to bring ruin; destructive; disastrous:
a ruinous war.
fallen into ruin; dilapidated:
a ruinous house.
consisting of ruins:
a ruinous city from antiquity.
Origin of ruinous
1350-1400; Middle English ruynouse < Latin ruīnōsus, equivalent to ruīn(a) ruin + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
ruinously, adverb
ruinousness, noun
nonruinous, adjective
nonruinously, adverb
nonruinousness, noun
unruinous, adjective
unruinously, adverb
unruinousness, noun
1. calamitous, ravaging, devastating, catastrophic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ruinous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This was effected, and the ruinous city was in the hands of the French.

  • But the aims of states should be good, or else, like the prayer of Theseus, they may be ruinous to themselves.

    Laws Plato
  • Truly it is not a ruinous service, Socrates (he answered)—far from it.

    The Symposium Xenophon
  • Nothing is so ruinous; and just at the moment when you want them, they will not be forthcoming.

    The Sportsman Xenophon
  • This series was published in 1735, and the church was then in a ruinous condition.

    Hampstead and Marylebone Geraldine Edith Mitton
British Dictionary definitions for ruinous


causing, tending to cause, or characterized by ruin or destruction: a ruinous course of action
Derived Forms
ruinously, adverb
ruinousness, 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 ruinous

late 14c., "going to ruin," from Old French ruinos (Modern French ruineux) or directly from Latin ruinosus "tumbling down, going to ruin," from ruina (see ruin (n.)). Meaning "causing ruin" is from mid-15c. Related: Ruinously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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