Etymology
Advertisement
devastate (v.)

1630s, "lay waste, ravage, make desolate," perhaps a back-formation from devastation. Apparently not common until 19c.; earlier verb form devast is attested from 1530s, from French devaster, from Latin devastare. Figurative use is by 1856. Related: devastated; devastating.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
devastating (adj.)

1630s, "laying waste, ravaging," present-participle adjective from devastate. Trivial or hyperbolic use is by 1889.

Related entries & more 
ravage (v.)

"devastate, lay waste, despoil," 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.

Related entries & more 
waste (v.)
c. 1200, "devastate, ravage, ruin," from Anglo-French and Old North French waster "to waste, squander, spoil, ruin" (Old French gaster; Modern French gâter), altered (by influence of Frankish *wostjan) from Latin vastare "lay waste," from vastus "empty, desolate," from PIE *wasto-, extended suffixed form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out." Related: wasted; wasting.

The Germanic word also existed in Old English as westan "to lay waste, ravage." Spanish gastar, Italian guastare also are from Germanic. Meaning "to lose strength or health; pine; weaken" is attested from c. 1300; the sense of "squander, spend or consume uselessly" is first recorded mid-14c.; meaning "to kill" is from 1964. Waste not, want not attested from 1778.
Related entries & more 
harass (v.)

1610s, "to lay waste, devastate" (obsolete); 1620s, "to vex by repeated attacks," from French harasser "tire out, vex" (16c.), which is of uncertain origin; possibly from Old French harer "stir up, provoke; set a dog on" (according to Watkins, from Frankish *hara "over here, hither," from Proto-Germanic *hi‑, from PIE *ki-, variant form of root *ko-, the stem of demonstrative pronoun meaning "this"), and perhaps blended with Old French harier "to harry, draw, drag" [Barnhart]. Related: Harassed; harassing.

Harass, as applied to mind or body, suggests the infliction of the weariness that comes from the continuance or repetition of trying experiences, so that there is not time for rest. Torment implies the infliction of acute pain, physical or mental, and is frequently used in the sense of harassing by frequent return. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
harry (v.)

Old English hergian "make war, lay waste, ravage, plunder," the word used in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for what the Vikings did to England, from Proto-Germanic *harjon (source also of Old Frisian urheria "lay waste, ravage, plunder," Old Norse herja "to make a raid, to plunder," Old Saxon and Old High German herion, German verheeren "to destroy, lay waste, devastate"). This is literally "to overrun with an army," from Proto-Germanic *harjan "an armed force" (source also of Old English here, Old Norse herr "crowd, great number; army, troop," Old Saxon and Old Frisian heri, Dutch heir, Old High German har, German Heer, Gothic harjis "a host, army").

The Germanic words come from PIE root *korio- "war" also "war-band, host, army" (source also of Lithuanian karas "war, quarrel," karias "host, army;" Old Church Slavonic kara "strife;" Middle Irish cuire "troop;" Old Persian kara "host, people, army;" Greek koiranos "ruler, leader, commander"). Weakened sense of "worry, goad, harass" is from c. 1400. Related: Harried; harrying.

Related entries & more