Etymology
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destroy (v.)

c. 1200, destruien, later destroien, "to overthrow, lay waste, ruin," from Old French destruire "destroy, ravage, lay waste" (12c., Modern French détruire), from Vulgar Latin *destrugere (source of Italian distruggere), refashioned (influenced by destructus), from Latin destruere "tear down, demolish," literally "un-build," from de "un-, down" (see de-) + struere "to pile, build" (from PIE *streu-, extended form of root *stere- "to spread").

From c. 1300 as "to kill, slay," also "to pull down, demolish" (what has been built); also "bring to naught, put an end to." Related: Destroyed; destroying.

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destructive (adj.)

"causing destruction, tending to destroy," late 15c. (Caxton), from Old French destructif (14c.), from Late Latin destructivus, from destruct-, past-participle stem of Latin destruere "to tear down, demolish" (see destroy). Related: Destructively; destructiveness.

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destroyer (n.)

late 14c., destruier, destroier, "a plunderer, a killer," agent noun from the verb in English (see destroy) and from Old French destruiere, from destruire.

As a type of small, fast warship, 1894, short for torpedo-boat destroyer (1885); their original purpose was to guard battleships and commercial ships against attacks from small, swift torpedo-boats (a name attested from 1864 in the American Civil War). An important design modification of the torpedo-boat, confusingly, was named "Destroyer," designed by John Ericsson and launched late in 1878 in New York but never brought in service in the U.S. Navy. The class has been generally called destroyers since World War I, when their chief purpose shifted to escort work and attacking submarines.

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*stere- 
*sterə-, also *ster-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to spread."

It forms all or part of: consternate; consternation; construct; construction; destroy; destruction; industry; instruct; instruction; instrument; obstruct; obstruction; perestroika; prostrate; sternum; sternocleidomastoid; strain (n.2) "race, stock, line;" stratagem; strategy; strath; strato-; stratocracy; stratography; stratosphere; stratum; stratus; straw; stray; street; strew; stroma; structure; substrate; substratum; substructure.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit strnoti "strews, throws down;" Avestan star- "to spread out, stretch out;" Greek stronymi "strew," stroma "bedding, mattress," sternon "breast, breastbone;" Latin sternere "to stretch, extend;" Old Church Slavonic stira, streti "spread," strana "area, region, country;" Russian stroji "order;" Gothic straujan, Old High German strouwen, Old English streowian "to sprinkle, strew;" Old English streon "strain," streaw "straw, that which is scattered;" Old High German stirna "forehead," strala "arrow, lightning bolt;" Old Irish fo-sernaim "spread out," srath "a wide river valley;" Welsh srat "plain."
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Apollyon 
destroying angel of the bottomless pit in Rev. ix.11 (a name also sometimes given to the Devil), late 14c., from present participle of Greek apollyein "to destroy utterly" (from apo "from, away from" (see apo-) + olluein "to destroy"); a translation of Hebrew Abaddon (q.v.).
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demolish (v.)

1560s, "to destroy the structural character of (a building, wall, etc.), by violently pulling it to pieces," from French demoliss-, present-participle stem of démolir "to destroy, tear down" (late 14c.), from Latin demoliri "tear down," from de "down" (see de-) + moliri "build, construct," from moles (genitive molis) "massive structure" (see mole (n.3)). Figurative sense of "to destroy, lay waste" is from 1610s; humorously, "to consume," by 1756. Related: Demolished; demolishing.

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unnerve (v.)
1620s, "to destroy the strength of," from un- (2) "reverse, opposite of" + nerve (v.). Meaning "to deprive of courage" is recorded from 1704. Related: Unnerved; unnerving.
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dynamite (v.)

"to blow up or destroy by dynamite," by 1878, from dynamite (n.). Related: Dynamited; dynamiting.

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invalidate (v.)

"destroy the strength or validity of, render of no force or effect," 1640s, from invalid (adj.2) + -ate (2). Related: Invalidated; invalidating.

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defeasance (n.)
Origin and meaning of defeasance

early 15c., "a condition on performance of which a deed is rendered void," from Anglo-French defesaunce, Old French desfaisance "undoing, destruction," from desfaire (Modern French défaire) "to undo, destroy," from Vulgar Latin *diffacere "undo, destroy," from Latin dis- "un-, not" (see dis-) + facere "to do, perform," from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put." Related: Defease; defeasible.

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