9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[dev-uh-steyt] /ˈdɛv əˌsteɪt/
verb (used with object), devastated, devastating.
to lay waste; render desolate:
The invaders devastated the city.
Synonyms: destroy, sack, despoil, raze, ruin, level.
Antonyms: create, erect, develop.
to overwhelm.
Origin of devastate
1625-35; < Latin dēvastātus laid waste (past participle of dēvastāre), equivalent to dē- de- + vast(āre) to lay waste (akin to vastus empty) + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
devastative, adjective
devastator, noun
undevastated, adjective
Synonym Study
1. See ravage. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for devastate
  • Cyclones regularly devastate the living reef, only to have the damaged segments rebound in a couple of decades.
  • When top level predators are removed, the middle predators devastate the lower tiers of the food chain.
  • Scientists say that climate change-caused droughts will devastate agriculture, disrupting societies and starving millions.
  • The weapons of war are designed to devastate and demoralize foot soldiers.
  • Pit closures still have the ability to wound but not to devastate.
  • Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery-famine and starvation.
  • It will also devastate a culture with a strong ethic of respect for the land and wildlife.
  • Their next move was to found yet another start-up-this time, one that threatened to devastate the television industry.
  • Late blight continues to devastate potato and tomato crops around the world.
  • What frightens them is a coalition of state officials and environmentalists who say divers threaten to devastate the abalone.
British Dictionary definitions for devastate


verb (transitive)
to lay waste or make desolate; ravage; destroy
to confound or overwhelm, as with grief or shock
Derived Forms
devastation, noun
devastative, adjective
devastator, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin dēvastāre, from de- + vastāre to ravage; related to vastus waste, empty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for devastate

1630s, perhaps a back-formation from devastation. Apparently not common until 19c.; earlier verb form devast is attested from 1530s, from Middle French devaster. Related: devastated; devastating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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