Ruin, destruction, havoc imply irrevocable and often widespread damage. Destruction may be on a large or small scale (destruction of tissue, of enemy vessels
); it emphasizes particularly the act of destroying, while ruin and havoc emphasize the resultant state. Ruin, from the verb meaning to fall to pieces, suggests a state of decay or disintegration (or an object in that state) that is apt to be more the result of the natural processes of time and change than of sudden violent activity from without: The house has fallen to ruins.
Only in its figurative application is it apt to suggest the result of destruction from without: the ruin of her hopes.
Havoc, originally a cry that served as the signal for pillaging, has changed its reference from that of spoliation to devastation, being used particularly of the destruction following in the wake of natural calamities: the havoc wrought by flood and pestilence.
Today it is used figuratively to refer to the destruction of hopes and plans: This sudden turn of events played havoc with her carefully laid designs. 4.
fall, overthrow, defeat, wreck. 10.
demolish, destroy, damage. See spoil