verb (used with object), rav·aged, rav·ag·ing.

to work havoc upon; damage or mar by ravages: a face ravaged by grief.

verb (used without object), rav·aged, rav·ag·ing.

to work havoc; do ruinous damage.


havoc; ruinous damage: the ravages of war.
devastating or destructive action.

Origin of ravage

1605–15; < French, Middle French, equivalent to rav(ir) to ravish + -age -age
Related formsrav·age·ment, nounrav·ag·er, nounun·rav·aged, adjective
Can be confusedravage ravishravenous ravaging ravishing (see synonym study at ravenous)

Synonyms for ravage

Synonym study

1. Ravage, devastate, lay waste all refer, in their literal application, to the wholesale destruction of a countryside by an invading army (or something comparable). Lay waste has remained the closest to the original meaning of destruction of land: The invading army laid waste the towns along the coast. But ravage and devastate are used in reference to other types of violent destruction and may also have a purely figurative application. Ravage is often used of the results of epidemics: The Black Plague ravaged 14th-century Europe; and even of the effect of disease or suffering on the human countenance: a face ravaged by despair. Devastate, in addition to its concrete meaning ( vast areas devastated by bombs ), may be used figuratively: a devastating remark.

Antonyms for ravage

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ravages

Contemporary Examples of ravages

Historical Examples of ravages

  • He looked into his own heart—he was almost afraid to look—and saw the ravages of disease there.

    Life in London

    Edwin Hodder

  • She stood under the chandelier, and he saw at once the ravages that trouble had made in her.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • In the Coupeau household the vitriol of l'Assommoir was also commencing its ravages.


    Emile Zola

  • The ravages to which her heart was subjected, proved still more terrible.

    Therese Raquin

    Emile Zola

  • The war was such that all dwelling in the midst of its ravages must choose their side.

    King Philip

    John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott

British Dictionary definitions for ravages



to cause extensive damage to


(often plural) destructive actionthe ravages of time
Derived Formsravagement, nounravager, noun

Word Origin for ravage

C17: from French, from Old French ravir to snatch away, ravish
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 ravages



1610s, from French ravager "lay waste, devastate," from Old French ravage "destruction," especially by flood (14c.), from ravir "to take away hastily" (see ravish). Related: Ravaged; ravaging.



1610s, from French ravage "destruction" (see ravage (v.)). Related: Ravages.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper