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self-destruct

[self-di-struhkt]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to destroy itself or oneself: The missile is built so that a malfunction will cause it to self-destruct.
  2. to cause itself or oneself to reach a state of collapse, dysfunction, confusion, or the like: The committee is so disorganized it will probably self-destruct before it can accomplish anything.
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adjective
  1. causing something to self-destruct: a self-destruct mechanism.
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Origin of self-destruct

An Americanism dating back to 1965–70
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for self-destruct

self-destruct

verb
  1. (intr) to explode or disintegrate automatically as a result of pre-programmingthe missile self-destructed
  2. to destroy oneself, one's reputation, etc, through one's habits or actionsI totally self-destructed with drugs
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noun
  1. (as modifier)hit the self-destruct button
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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 self-destruct

v.

in reference to things, "to destroy itself automatically," from self- + destruct, apparently first attested in the U.S. television series "Mission Impossible" (1966). Self-destructive is recorded from 1650s, and self-destruction "suicide" is attested from 1580s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper