Words related to destroy


active word-forming element in English and in many verbs inherited from French and Latin, from Latin de "down, down from, from, off; concerning" (see de), also used as a prefix in Latin, usually meaning "down, off, away, from among, down from," but also "down to the bottom, totally" hence "completely" (intensive or completive), which is its sense in many English words.

As a Latin prefix it also had the function of undoing or reversing a verb's action, and hence it came to be used as a pure privative — "not, do the opposite of, undo" — which is its primary function as a living prefix in English, as in defrost (1895), defuse (1943), de-escalate (1964), etc. In some cases, a reduced form of dis-.


*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."

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.

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.