[ dev-uh-stey-ting ]
/ ˈdɛv əˌsteɪ tɪŋ /


tending or threatening to devastate: a devastating fire.
satirical, ironic, or caustic in an effective way: a devastating portrayal of society.

Nearby words

  1. devalue,
  2. devanagari,
  3. devascularization,
  4. devastate,
  5. devastated,
  6. devastation,
  7. devein,
  8. devel.,
  9. develop,
  10. developable surface

Origin of devastating

First recorded in 1625–35; devastate + -ing2

Related formsdev·as·tat·ing·ly, adverbun·dev·as·tat·ing, adjectiveun·dev·as·tat·ing·ly, adverb


[ dev-uh-steyt ]
/ ˈdɛv əˌsteɪt /

verb (used with object), dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing.

to lay waste; render desolate: The invaders devastated the city.
to overwhelm.

Origin of devastate

1625–35; < Latin dēvastātus laid waste (past participle of dēvastāre), equivalent to dē- de- + vast(āre) to lay waste (akin to vastus empty) + -ātus -ate1

Related formsdev·as·ta·tive, adjectivedev·as·ta·tor, nounun·dev·as·tat·ed, adjective

Synonym study

1. See ravage. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for devastating

British Dictionary definitions for devastating


/ (ˈdɛvəˌsteɪtɪŋ) /


extremely effective in a destructive waya devastating war; a devastating report on urban deprivation
Derived Formsdevastatingly, adverb


/ (ˈdɛvəˌsteɪt) /

verb (tr)

to lay waste or make desolate; ravage; destroy
to confound or overwhelm, as with grief or shock
Derived Formsdevastation, noundevastative, adjectivedevastator, noun

Word Origin for devastate

C17: from Latin dēvastāre, from de- + vastāre to ravage; related to vastus waste, empty

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 devastating
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper