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  1. tending to destroy; causing destruction or much damage (often followed by of or to): a very destructive windstorm.
  2. tending to overthrow, disprove, or discredit (opposed to constructive): destructive criticism.
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Origin of destructive

1480–90; < Middle French < Late Latin dēstructīvus, equivalent to Latin dēstruct(us) (see destruction) + -īvus -ive
Related formsde·struc·tive·ly, adverbde·struc·tive·ness, de·struc·tiv·i·ty [dee-struhk-tiv-i-tee] /ˌdi strʌkˈtɪv ɪ ti/, nounin·ter·de·struc·tive, adjectivein·ter·de·struc·tive·ly, adverbin·ter·de·struc·tive·ness, nounnon·de·struc·tive, adjectivenon·de·struc·tive·ly, adverbnon·de·struc·tive·ness, nouno·ver·de·struc·tive, adjectiveo·ver·de·struc·tive·ly, adverbo·ver·de·struc·tive·ness, nounsem·i·de·struc·tive, adjectiveun·de·struc·tive, adjectiveun·de·struc·tive·ly, adverbun·de·struc·tive·ness, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for destructive


  1. (often postpositive and foll by of or to) causing or tending to cause the destruction (of)
  2. intended to disprove or discredit, esp without positive suggestions or help; negativedestructive criticism Compare constructive (def. 1)
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Derived Formsdestructively, adverbdestructiveness or 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

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper