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  1. ruins, the remains of a building, city, etc., that has been destroyed or that is in disrepair or a state of decay: We visited the ruins of ancient Greece.
  2. a destroyed or decayed building, town, etc.
  3. a fallen, wrecked, or decayed condition: The building fell to ruin.
  4. the downfall, decay, or destruction of anything.
  5. the complete loss of health, means, position, hope, or the like.
  6. something that causes a downfall or destruction; blight: Alcohol was his ruin.
  7. the downfall of a person; undoing: the ruin of Oedipus.
  8. a person as the wreck of his or her former self; ravaged individual.
  9. the act of causing destruction or a downfall.
verb (used with object)
  1. to reduce to ruin; devastate.
  2. to bring (a person, company, etc.) to financial ruin; bankrupt.
  3. to injure (a thing) irretrievably.
  4. to induce (a woman) to surrender her virginity; deflower.
verb (used without object)
  1. to fall into ruins; fall to pieces.
  2. to come to ruin.

Origin of ruin

1325–75; (noun) Middle English ruine < Middle French < Latin ruīna headlong rush, fall, collapse, equivalent to ru(ere) to fall + -īna -ine2; (v.) (< Middle French ruiner) < Medieval Latin ruīnāre, derivative of Latin ruīna
Related formsru·in·a·ble, adjectiveru·in·er, nounhalf-ru·ined, adjectivenon·ru·in·a·ble, adjectiveself-ru·in, nounself-ru·ined, adjectiveun·ru·in·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for ruin

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3. Ruin, destruction, havoc imply irrevocable and often widespread damage. Destruction may be on a large or small scale ( destruction of tissue, of enemy vessels ); it emphasizes particularly the act of destroying, while ruin and havoc emphasize the resultant state. Ruin, from the verb meaning to fall to pieces, suggests a state of decay or disintegration (or an object in that state) that is apt to be more the result of the natural processes of time and change than of sudden violent activity from without: The house has fallen to ruins. Only in its figurative application is it apt to suggest the result of destruction from without: the ruin of her hopes. Havoc, originally a cry that served as the signal for pillaging, has changed its reference from that of spoliation to devastation, being used particularly of the destruction following in the wake of natural calamities: the havoc wrought by flood and pestilence. Today it is used figuratively to refer to the destruction of hopes and plans: This sudden turn of events played havoc with her carefully laid designs. 4. fall, overthrow, defeat, wreck. 10. demolish, destroy, damage. See spoil.

Antonyms for ruin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ruiner

Historical Examples of ruiner

  • He is the enemy of conjugal love, and is the Jupiter of the Greeks, an iron-hearted tyrant, the ruiner of ancient Greece.

    William Blake

    Irene Langridge

British Dictionary definitions for ruiner


  1. destroyed or decayed building or town
  2. the state or condition of being destroyed or decayed
  3. loss of wealth, position, etc, or something that causes such loss; downfall
  4. something that is severely damagedhis life was a ruin
  5. a person who has suffered a downfall, bankruptcy, etc
  6. loss of value or usefulness
  7. archaic loss of her virginity by a woman outside marriage
  1. (tr) to bring to ruin; destroy
  2. (tr) to injure or spoilthe town has been ruined with tower blocks
  3. (intr) archaic, or poetic to fall into ruins; collapse
Derived Formsruinable, adjectiveruiner, noun

Word Origin for ruin

C14: from Old French ruine, from Latin ruīna a falling down, from ruere to fall violently
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 ruiner



late 14c., "act of giving way and falling down," from Old French ruine "a collapse" (14c.), and directly from Latin ruina "a collapse, a rushing down, a tumbling down" (cf. Spanish ruina, Italian rovina), related to ruere "to rush, fall violently, collapse," from PIE *reue- "to smash, knock down, tear out, dig up" (see rough (adj.)). Meaning "complete destruction of anything" is from 1670s. Ruins "remains of a decayed building or town" is from mid-15c.; the same sense was in the Latin plural noun.



1580s (transitive), from ruin (n.). Intransitive sense "fall into ruin" is from c.1600. Financial sense is attested from 1660. Related: Ruined; ruining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with ruiner


see rack and ruin.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.