1. ruins, the remains of a building, city, etc., that has been destroyed or that is in disrepair or a state of decay: We visited the ruins of ancient Greece.
  2. a destroyed or decayed building, town, etc.
  3. a fallen, wrecked, or decayed condition: The building fell to ruin.
  4. the downfall, decay, or destruction of anything.
  5. the complete loss of health, means, position, hope, or the like.
  6. something that causes a downfall or destruction; blight: Alcohol was his ruin.
  7. the downfall of a person; undoing: the ruin of Oedipus.
  8. a person as the wreck of his or her former self; ravaged individual.
  9. the act of causing destruction or a downfall.

verb (used with object)

  1. to reduce to ruin; devastate.
  2. to bring (a person, company, etc.) to financial ruin; bankrupt.
  3. to injure (a thing) irretrievably.
  4. to induce (a woman) to surrender her virginity; deflower.

verb (used without object)

  1. to fall into ruins; fall to pieces.
  2. to come to ruin.


  1. badly damaged, decayed, or ruined


  1. destroyed or decayed building or town
  2. the state or condition of being destroyed or decayed
  3. loss of wealth, position, etc, or something that causes such loss; downfall
  4. something that is severely damagedhis life was a ruin
  5. a person who has suffered a downfall, bankruptcy, etc
  6. loss of value or usefulness
  7. archaic loss of her virginity by a woman outside marriage


  1. (tr) to bring to ruin; destroy
  2. (tr) to injure or spoilthe town has been ruined with tower blocks
  3. (intr) archaic, or poetic to fall into ruins; collapse

late 14c., “act of giving way and falling down,” from Old French ruine “a collapse” (14c.), and directly from Latin ruina “a collapse, a rushing down, a tumbling down” (cf. Spanish ruina, Italian rovina), related to ruere “to rush, fall violently, collapse,” from PIE *reue- “to smash, knock down, tear out, dig up” (see rough (adj.)). Meaning “complete destruction of anything” is from 1670s. Ruins “remains of a decayed building or town” is from mid-15c.; the same sense was in the Latin plural noun.


1580s (transitive), from ruin (n.). Intransitive sense “fall into ruin” is from c.1600. Financial sense is attested from 1660. Related: Ruined; ruining.

see rack and ruin.

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