Definition of ruin in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed.

    ‘a large white house falling into gentle ruin’
    • ‘The wreck and ruin of the old forest was put in order, shattered trees made whole, tender grasses covering the tortured land.’
    • ‘After the destruction and ruin of the war years, and the climate of nationalism which preceded them, many hoped for a new model of political co-operation in Europe.’
    • ‘Remember, Japan was the most devastated country in World War II, in terms of the atomic ruin of major cities and the destruction of the old order.’
    • ‘One atom bomb had created as much ruin and misery as hundreds of airplanes had.’
    • ‘In the midst of mass destruction, death and ruin, Lamb is quick to point out the bird singing, the lone flower pushing defiantly through the dirt, the smell of a pine tree.’
    • ‘Russian poetry tended to the apocalyptic and visionary rather than preoccupation with the blood and ruin of the real war.’
    • ‘Blessed with cataclysmic vision, we don't admit gentler outcomes, such as mere catastrophe or ruin.’
    • ‘The treasures of the past most at risk of falling into ruin are revealed in a comprehensive register.’
    • ‘In several European countries, the poultry industry appears to be in imminent danger of ruin.’
    • ‘Javius looked away from them to the ruin and destruction of nearly a fourth of his army.’
    • ‘Doors and windows are constantly falling out and the place is falling to ruin before their very eyes.’
    • ‘The human figure is reduced to anonymity in the seemingly endless vista of ruin and devastation.’
    • ‘All over the world human strife arises from these sources, escalating into violence, bringing death and scattering ruin.’
    • ‘The dozens of sports that set down this weekend left a wake of destruction and ruin.’
    • ‘In Tolkien's world, evil is the antithesis of creativity, and is dependent on destruction and ruin for its basis.’
    • ‘It was natural for us to attempt to paint ourselves in a more favorable light while making out the others as the troublemakers and causers of ruin.’
    • ‘In addition to the physical ruin, there was the collapse of the ideology which had been so prominent.’
    • ‘He whispered in her ear, grabbing her hand in his and pulling her away from the devastation and ruin of the once lush and beautiful land Elena knew as home.’
    • ‘The others followed my lead, and tossed their torches as they rode away from the fire, away from the destruction and ruin.’
    • ‘Farmers face financial disaster after freak rain storms thrashed crops into muddy ruin.’
    disintegration, decay, disrepair, dilapidation, falling to pieces, decrepitude, ruination
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[count noun]The remains of a building, typically an old one that has suffered much damage or disintegration.
      ‘the ruins of the castle’
      ‘the church is a ruin now’
      • ‘The ruins of ancient Indian buildings strike the imagination.’
      • ‘He continued to fight the approaching enemy, taking cover from behind the ruins of a building that had been ripped apart.’
      • ‘At Tumacacori, a museum and the ruins of the church vie for attention.’
      • ‘Below was another photo, this time of the ruins of the building the day after the fire.’
      • ‘Two further weeks were spent on an exterior set, built into the ruins of a castle outside Prague, where the streets of London were constructed.’
      • ‘A pub, a few houses, a fish restaurant, and the ruins of a Greyfriars monastery are pretty much all that remains of Dunwich, which was once a major port.’
      • ‘The ruins of the castle remain atop the hill but provide little protection from the relentless mistral, which constantly whips through its now-exposed cavity.’
      • ‘The city walls include a number of scheduled monuments and listed buildings, including the ruins of St Mary's Abbey and St Olave's Church, which is still in use.’
      • ‘The ruins of the apartment buildings were quickly bulldozed after the 1999 bombings.’
      • ‘The ruins of this building are still the cause of much speculation as to their purpose.’
      • ‘An impressive museum, extensive ruins and preserved buildings remain at this National Historic Site.’
      • ‘Towards the end of the film Danilov and Vassili are hiding together in the ruins of a building.’
      • ‘Alexander the Great was unsuccessful in his aims to capture the hilltop fortress here, the ruins of which remain to be explored.’
      • ‘In the middle of Northstead was a conical mound with the ruins of a stone building, said by some historians to have been the Manor House, by others to have been a magazine.’
      • ‘You may even want to visit the beautiful Mayan ruin of Tikal in nearby Guatemala at the same time.’
      • ‘In the moonlight, the ruins of some building stood.’
      • ‘Tourists visit Mayan ruins, take jungle safaris, and explore a long barrier reef.’
      • ‘In Sarajevo we found an overwhelming energy and bustle set against a backdrop of the ruins of dilapidated buildings.’
      • ‘People have tried to locate both the ruins of these buildings and the quarries from which the local stone used in their construction was taken.’
      • ‘In May 1945 it was the Russians who hoisted their flag over the ruins of the Reichstag building in Berlin.’
      remains, remnants, fragments, relics, remainder, rubble, debris, detritus, wreckage
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2The disastrous disintegration of someone's life.
      ‘the ruin and heartbreak wrought by alcohol, divorce, and violence’
      • ‘Marijuana smoking, experts point out, can make a helpless addict of its victim within weeks, causing physical and moral ruin, and death.’
      • ‘He doesn't know much, but what he does know could spell ruin for us.’
      • ‘Because such non-moderate behavior could lead to death or ruin, such a risk should not be taken lightly.’
      • ‘Mr Fleetwood justifiably said that this was a devastating claim to make against a private individual and one which would spell personal ruin for Mr James.’
      • ‘Even so, I did not leave the young, brown-haired man in complete despair and ruin.’
      • ‘Like so many others afflicted with the condition, he seems constantly to seek a way to drink that will not bring trouble and ruin.’
      • ‘The court case has also spelled ruin for Whitehead, who now believes he will lose his job as head of business studies.’
      bankruptcy, insolvency, penury, poverty, destitution, impoverishment, indigence, beggary, financial failure
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3The complete loss of one's money and other assets.
      ‘the financial cost could mean ruin’
      • ‘If any of these people demonstrate more loyalty to the customer than to the government, they risk bringing their businesses to financial ruin.’
      • ‘Many farmers in these ventures are near financial ruin.’
      • ‘A heartbroken North Yorkshire couple told today how they face ruin after losing a legal battle for compensation after their retirement dream turned into a nightmare.’
      • ‘Two successive bad harvests brought the risk of ruin.’
      • ‘Now comes the news that her shifty lawyer father has only 48 hours to raise a lot of money or face financial ruin and imprisonment.’
      • ‘She is facing ruin after costs of tens of thousands of pounds were awarded against her.’
      • ‘Physical abuse can leave scars; economic abuse, on the other hand, can lead to desperation and eventual ruin.’
      • ‘But other than that, if you get sick, you're in danger of financial ruin.’
      • ‘At least 5 per cent of Britain's livestock population has now been destroyed; many farmers face potential ruin.’
      • ‘But a series of personal disasters and financial ruin triggered a mental disorder that was to turn the father of two into a killer.’
      • ‘The court was told that he faced financial ruin in relation to the costs of a libel action he had taken out against the Sunday Times.’
      • ‘Unfortunately her formal education came to a stop in 1839 as a result of her father's financial ruin and social disgrace.’
      • ‘He said today that he had only avoided such ruin after being left money following the death of his 103-year-old mother.’
      • ‘The book contains a vigorous satire on the abuses of the old court of Chancery, the delays and costs of which brought misery and ruin on its suitors.’
      • ‘In the years ahead, I expect to see some solo bloggers get in trouble - and some get driven to personal ruin when they lose libel lawsuits.’
      • ‘A grieving widow who has travelled from China for the funeral of her student son told how his hit-and-run death has left her a broken woman facing financial ruin.’
      • ‘They might not have been as happy, but they didn't face complete ruin.’
      • ‘It began as an ambitious scheme to establish a Scottish colony in Panama, but ended in loss of life and financial ruin.’
      • ‘But the net effect for the company was still disaster and ruin.’
      • ‘My heart goes out to the unfortunate farmers who will suffer economic ruin from this unforeseen disaster and I weep for the families whose members have been struck down by this fickle virus.’
      bankruptcy, insolvency, penury, poverty, destitution, impoverishment, indigence, beggary, financial failure
      downfall, collapse, defeat, overthrow, undoing, fall, failure, breakdown, break-up, disintegration, devastation, ruination
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4Something that causes the disintegration of a person's life or the complete loss of their assets.
      ‘they don't know how to say no, and that's been their ruin’
      • ‘It was his intemperance which made him deaf to the appeals of Haemon, and which led him to disregard till it was too late the warnings of Teiresias; it was his intemperance which was his ruin.’
      • ‘Ñusta fell in love with this man, but that was her ruin.’
      scourge, death, plague, ruination, destruction
      View synonyms


  • 1[with object] Reduce (a building or place) to a state of decay, collapse, or disintegration.

    ‘a ruined castle’
    • ‘All he was trying to do was stop the firework from ruining our house.’
    • ‘There was nothing left, nothing, no ruined buildings, no burned farmland, no bodies.’
    • ‘She must have walked for an hour or two, heading nowhere in particular, when she felt a weird, sudden urge to go to the Shambles, a local ruined building, with no roof.’
    • ‘Trawling bothers ecologists who aver that it ruins the ocean-floor habitat of many fish species.’
    • ‘In summer roosts have been found in caves, lime kilns and ruined buildings especially those with open roofs.’
    • ‘He says the soldiers systematically demolished the village and ruined the surrounding land.’
    • ‘Once it is gone, it is gone forever and our grandchildren will never forgive us, if this open space is ruined - and we will never forgive you or the council if those proposals go through.’
    • ‘They are ruining the building and putting themselves at risk.’
    • ‘Although partly ruined, largely due to the bombardment by Morozini in 1687, it still fills the visitor with admiration and awe.’
    • ‘The landslides of September 19 destroyed their farms, killed their livestock, and ruined their land.’
    • ‘A landlord and landlady today told of the battle to prevent their pub being ruined by flood water.’
    • ‘In the Poland sequence, giant ruined industrial buildings, looking straight out of the 19th century, loom among the hills.’
    • ‘In one such living quarters one end of the building is ruined and reclaimed by the vigorous growth of the rainforest.’
    • ‘It notes that most people do not have access to safe water, power failures are frequent and the country's landscape still features ruined buildings.’
    • ‘Businesses and houses were ruined as torrential rain caused water levels to rise to record levels.’
    • ‘Like the homes of most people from the Davidson Street basin, her house is ruined.’
    • ‘Pigeons carry 60 very nasty diseases as well as ruining our buildings and dirtying our pavements with their droppings.’
    • ‘These skirmishes further ruined many fine plantations.’
    • ‘Here, too, there was a tendency to remodel ruined buildings and convert them into more modest structures, often using perishable materials.’
    • ‘The central hub of Bondville is the harbour overlooked by fishing cottages and guest houses as well as the great ruined fortress of Portland Castle.’
    destroy, devastate, lay waste, leave in ruins, wreak havoc on, ravage, leave desolate
    derelict, in ruins, gone to rack and ruin, dilapidated, ruinous, tumbledown, ramshackle, broken-down, decrepit, in disrepair, falling to pieces, falling apart, crumbling, decaying, disintegrating
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Cause great and usually irreparable damage or harm to; have a disastrous effect on.
      ‘a noisy motorway has ruined village life’
      • ‘When someone is talking it just ruins the effect.’
      • ‘This is the part of Temple Bar where Dubliners can hang out without ruining their street cred.’
      • ‘Many were anxious it would harm their health and ruin the charm of their community.’
      • ‘I write in response to the story about boy racers ruining the town centre and participating in so-called ‘anti-social’ behaviour.’
      • ‘Recently, town councillors in Pickering warned that vandals who had been wreaking havoc were ruining the market town for everyone.’
      • ‘All it does it sit there humming and grinding away and generally ruining the atmosphere.’
      • ‘The people I stopped on the street told me that the superstore would ruin the place.’
      • ‘His first anniversary was ruined when thieves broke into his shop and removed goods valued at around £18,000.’
      • ‘Ineffective strategic management can bankrupt companies and ruin the careers of chief executives.’
      • ‘And an opposition researcher took a picture, blew it up into a placard and brought it to a rally, which had the effect of instantly ruining the guy's campaign.’
      • ‘He orders the young man not to look at him either because as client or director this would ruin the effect he wants to achieve.’
      • ‘I rocked back on my heels and pretended to be offended, though the effect was probably ruined by the badly suppressed grin on my face.’
      • ‘And, as is inevitably the case whenever a viewer can identify a special effect as a special effect, it ruins the experience.’
      • ‘He claimed the lighting and netting would ruin residents' views of Canary Wharf, and that nature groups believed owls nesting nearby would disappear.’
      • ‘Concerned parents in Bradford claim teenagers are ruining a neighbourhood playground for an estate's youngsters.’
      • ‘What drives them to subvert science, lie about the sources of the harm done, ruin countless lives?’
      • ‘If she didn't let him, he'd go to Uncle Luther, and then she'd be done for sure, her big break would be ruined.’
      • ‘The project has encountered some objections prompted by concerns that the extension and alterations will ruin the listed building's image.’
      • ‘Of course, he totally ruins the effects by laughing.’
      • ‘His parents were working on a billion dollar assignment, when John sabotaged everything, and ruined their reputations.’
      destroyed, in ruins, in pieces, in ashes, falling down about one's ears
      wreck, destroy, devastate, wreak havoc on, reduce to nothing, damage, spoil, mar, injure, blast, blight, smash, shatter, dash, torpedo, scotch, make a mess of, mess up
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Reduce to a state of poverty.
      ‘they were ruined by the highest interest rates this century’
      • ‘Braddock had all his money tied up in stocks and the crash left him ruined.’
      • ‘He was much in demand for occasional music but died in poverty, ruined by his attempts to find the philosopher's stone.’
      • ‘We do not want to see our bio-diversity destroyed and our farmers ruined because of corporate bio-terrorism.’
      • ‘Dreverhaven seemingly hinders him at every turn, undermining his successes out of spite, trying to break his will and ruin him financially.’
      bankrupt, make bankrupt, cause to go bankrupt, make insolvent, impoverish, reduce to destitution, reduce to penury, bring to ruin, bring someone to their knees, wipe out, break, cripple
      View synonyms
  • 2literary [no object] Fall headlong or with a crash.

    ‘carriages go ruining over the brink from time to time’


  • in ruins

    • In a state of complete disorder or disintegration.

      ‘the economy was in ruins’
      • ‘A York academic and ‘pillar of the community’ was today starting a prison sentence with his career in ruins.’
      • ‘Built in the late 1400s, this Norman tower house was in ruins when Hurley started his labour of love.’
      • ‘All our hopes and ambitions, our life's work, were in ruins.’
      • ‘While it was mostly in ruins, a tall tower that looked more like it belonged on a castle than an abbey rose imperiously over the grounds.’
      • ‘The 700-year-old Muslim fort was in ruins, but the promise was made that it would be repaired and restored.’
      • ‘As of early June, the town was still in ruins, and no economy activity had resumed.’
      • ‘A little girl's Christmas is in ruins after burglars broke into a house and stole her presents.’
      • ‘The owner locked the property in Coombe Road at 5pm on Saturday and returned at 9am on Sunday to find the salon in ruins.’
      • ‘Then she switches into attack mode, and plays destructive head games until the relationship lies in ruins.’
      • ‘Plans to create a £23m showpiece military museum alongside a huge Army base in Yorkshire are in ruins.’
      destroyed, ruined, in pieces, in ashes, falling down about one's ears
      derelict, ruined, gone to rack and ruin, in disrepair, falling to pieces, falling apart, dilapidated, tumbledown, ramshackle, broken-down, decrepit, decaying, ruinous
      View synonyms


Middle English (in the sense ‘collapse of a building’): from Old French ruine, from Latin ruina, from ruere to fall.