Definition of demolish in English:



  • 1Pull or knock down (a building)

    ‘the house was demolished to make way for the shopping centre’
    • ‘‘It's obviously now a huge eyesore and I would hope the building is demolished to make it safe for residents living nearby,’ he said.’
    • ‘Developers of the site have now applied for listed building consent to demolish the weaver's shed and build a new block containing 223 flats in its place.’
    • ‘He added that replacing the store would require demolishing the current building, but the company would endeavour to keep trading throughout.’
    • ‘The huge public clock on the old Naburn Hospital water tower was a major local landmark before the building was demolished in 1989.’
    • ‘Around AD 150 the villa was demolished for a larger building.’
    • ‘In 1989, construction workers demolishing an office building accidentally uncovered the foundations of the Rose theatre.’
    • ‘The town councillor said although civic leaders would have rather seen the former cinema turned into a leisure facility, she was not against demolishing the building.’
    • ‘There are plans to demolish the Cathedral College buildings and rebuild a £15 million building with a performing arts centre which would open from September 2005.’
    • ‘The original building was demolished, and a four-storey shop and a number of apartments were built in its place.’
    • ‘The old school building was demolished in 1991.’
    • ‘People living in Semington have given their support to a campaign to keep the village post office open, despite a planning application to demolish the building that houses it.’
    • ‘The Fire Service has recommended that the building be demolished.’
    • ‘The plans include converting a barn into two homes, transforming another barn into two garages and demolishing other agricultural buildings.’
    • ‘The plans comprise demolishing the pub and building seven three-bedroom houses, a four-storey block of eight, two-bedroom flats and a two-storey block with a flat and car park.’
    • ‘He added that once the school buildings are demolished, there will not be any changing facilities available with the fields.’
    • ‘Church authorities decided to demolish the building because it was proving too costly to maintain.’
    • ‘We shifted out of that house a few years ago and then the building was demolished to make way for a new residential building.’
    • ‘Most of the original building was demolished, although the new house incorporated part of the facade of the early 18th century building, and this still remains.’
    • ‘The big question everyone in town is asking, when are they going to start work on demolishing the derelict buildings?’
    • ‘He said plans for the site would not necessarily include demolishing the buildings or cutting down the trees.’
    knock down, pull down, tear down, bring down, destroy, flatten, raze, raze to the ground, level, reduce to ruins, bulldoze, break up, topple
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    1. 1.1 Comprehensively refute (an argument or its proponent)
      ‘I looked forward keenly to demolishing my opponent’
      • ‘He was at a complete loss when it came to advancing any sound argument to demolish the monetary theory of the trade cycle.’
      • ‘This is evident in the Enlightenment's attack on tradition as outmoded superstition - an argument Hayek brilliantly demolishes.’
      • ‘In a tour de force, John Woodmorappe provides scientific evidence for pseudogene function and demolishes the argument that chimps, humans and gorillas share pseudogenes.’
      • ‘The straw man fallacy - invent a deliberately weakened version of your opponent's position, demolish it, then claim to have refuted their argument.’
      • ‘They must demolish an argument in court, and demonstrate to the audience - sorry, that should read ‘jury’ - that they have done so.’
      • ‘The article is worth reading just for the confident and articulate way in which she demolishes every argument brought against her position, but what I found more interesting was the bias of the journalist who wrote the piece.’
      • ‘Then he demolished the classic arguments of the slave traders.’
      • ‘The statistics are shocking - and they demolish any arguments put forward by the cynical pro-smoking lobby.’
      • ‘Kant demolished the rationalistic arguments of Anselm, Descartes, and others, for the existence of God.’
      • ‘The Civil War demolished the concept of state sovereignty and undermined the ‘compact’ theory of the Constitution.’
      • ‘It's not my fault that nine times out of 10 they just won't let it lie and end up crying hysterically after I've been forced to demolish their argument, their character and their entire life choices.’
      • ‘By the end of the night I had demolished their arguments.’
      • ‘Carl demolished every argument this so-called champion of evolution could throw at him.’
      • ‘The serene self-belief she had when demolishing every opponent in her path during the first three months of this year is gone, replaced by sloping shoulders, a down-turned mouth and an air of irritated resignation.’
      • ‘It completely demolishes the arguments used in favour of culling birds of prey.’
      • ‘As each of his arguments is demolished he moves on to another.’
      • ‘He was known to be a terror for demolishing opponents in public disputations.’
      • ‘(He used the figure to demolish one of the arguments against expansion).’
      • ‘This supreme example of digital art brilliantly demolishes the illusion that the computer-game player exercises any control over what happens on-screen.’
      • ‘For this tradition, it is Plato's positive claims that are interesting, not just his insistence on argument to demolish the claims of others and to enable one's own understanding of others' positions.’
      destroy, ruin, wreck, put an end to, smash, crush, squelch, squash
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    2. 1.2informal Overwhelmingly defeat (a player or team)
      ‘Arsenal demolished City 3–0’
      • ‘Even their convincing five-try win over Japan was blemished by the sight of their smaller opponents demolishing their scrum, pushing them downfield with rolling mauls and causing turnover after turnover.’
      • ‘Last Saturday against Carlton the players managed to respond to the coach's third quarter reorganization and completely outwit and demolish a team threatening to steal a gritty win.’
      • ‘On Friday, the youth team was demolished 8-0 by the Czech Republic in Teplitze.’
      • ‘When I watched him get his face beaten and demolished in Fight Club, I knew it was over.’
      • ‘His left foot can demolish teams but there is much more to his game than kicking.’
      • ‘Pam Henderson, at four, was in cracking form and demolished her opponent, losing only a handful of points in three sets.’
      • ‘They had a look around at the familiar surroundings and then they absolutely demolished a disappointing home team.’
      • ‘He has demolished the best bowlers from all these nine teams - a total of 64 tons in international cricket.’
      • ‘The combination, with the support of a goalkeeper like Dong Sik Yo, can demolish any defence in contemporary hockey.’
      • ‘Table toppers at the halfway stage, Moone Celtic demolished their opponents on Sunday last, putting down a solid marker for the remainder of the season.’
      • ‘But defying team orders, Cunego demolished his team-mate on the road with a series of sensational stage rides and cruised to victory.’
      • ‘Playing with white, Adams demolished his much lower-rated player Asabri in just 35 moves.’
      • ‘Match 2 saw them demolish their opponents on the 14th hole winning 6-4.’
      • ‘After all, Scottish football teams have constantly demonstrated their ability to demolish our dreams without external assistance.’
      • ‘Further to that, was Kilkenny's ‘senior’ team not demolished by Kildare in the junior championship?’
      • ‘In the end, the No.7 girls demolished the team from School No.3 three sets to love.’
      • ‘The battle for the runners-up spot saw Shepherds demolish Bishopthorpe, with Mick Willsden including a 101 finish for a superb 15-darter.’
      • ‘We find the underdog being demolished by someone and then try and target who's doing it, that sort of thing.’
      • ‘I came to Glasgow with high expectations because I've been demolishing players in practice.’
      • ‘Besides, we don't know whether or not Adam will start a rock band, demolish the debating team and edit the leftist student paper.’
    3. 1.3British humorous Eat up (food) quickly.
      ‘Brown was busy demolishing a sausage roll’
      • ‘Victor Hugo, we learn, could demolish a dozen oranges and two haunches of beef at any meal.’
      • ‘The vegetarian meal was quickly demolished in the ensuing silence.’
      • ‘I shrugged and sat beside him, focusing on demolishing my ice cream.’
      • ‘But this rather added to the general joviality, and the cake, which did taste extremely good, was quickly demolished.’
      • ‘They demolish vast mountains of food, and it's only when that's gone that the party begins to wind down.’
      • ‘Back at the ranch Bobby Joe was cooking up a feast of chilly dogs and all the trimmings and on return the golfers proceeded to demolish the food.’
      • ‘The snappers soon demolished the tuna and the current blasted us up from 30m into a shallow, sandy area, carpeted with garden eels.’
      • ‘Not the mountainous dish I had anticipated, but they demolished the curry with enthusiasm, and felt pleasantly full afterwards.’
      • ‘So, you are duty bound to go over to his site finish all the free liquor and help to demolish the birthday cake.’
      • ‘He quickly demolished most of the pie, then chucked the remains and the paper bag it had been in on the pavement, without breaking his stride.’
      • ‘I remained distracted until we had demolished our desserts and had only our glasses of wine remaining before us on the table.’
      • ‘In no time we all filled our plates and demolished the food which was not bad for home cooking.’
      • ‘A good time was had by all and the restaurant was voted one of the best in the business, especially by Pete Galle as he demolished the ice cream special he's been coming here for many years.’


Mid 16th century: from French démoliss-, lengthened stem of démolir, from Latin demoliri, from de- (expressing reversal) + moliri ‘construct’ (from moles ‘mass’).