• synonyms


verb (used with object), dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing.
  1. to lay waste; render desolate: The invaders devastated the city.
  2. to overwhelm.
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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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for devastator

Historical Examples of devastator

  • The destroyer of heaven, the devastator of the earth,—such is my majesty.

    The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria

    Morris Jastrow

  • Again he discovered that the devastator was a microscopic destroyer.

  • Who is this devastator, this modern "scourge of God," whose deeds are not recorded in history?

  • Who, then, proved to be the devastator and marauder; the uncivilized Chinese, or the civilized Christian?

  • It has from time immemorial been known to man in all the countries it inhabits as the devastator of his flocks of sheep.

British Dictionary definitions for devastator


verb (tr)
  1. to lay waste or make desolate; ravage; destroy
  2. to confound or overwhelm, as with grief or shock
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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 devastator



1630s, perhaps a back-formation from devastation. Apparently not common until 19c.; earlier verb form devast is attested from 1530s, from Middle French devaster. Related: devastated; devastating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper