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late 14c., "someone or something that destroys," agent noun from Old French destruire (see destroy). As a type of warship, 1893, originally torpedo-boat destroyer; the class name perhaps from the proper name given to one such ship in the U.S. Navy in 1882.
(Ex. 12:23), the agent employed in the killing of the first-born; the destroying angel or messenger of God. (Comp. 2 Kings 19:35; 2 Sam. 24:15, 16; Ps. 78:49; Acts 12:23.)