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[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 devastator
Historical Examples
  • Again he discovered that the devastator was a microscopic destroyer.

    Brave Men and Women O.E. Fuller
  • The destroyer of heaven, the devastator of the earth,—such is my majesty.

  • The latter, who knew a good cigar from smoking many bad ones, threw away the devastator and lighted Richard's.

    The President Alfred Henry Lewis
  • Who, then, proved to be the devastator and marauder; the uncivilized Chinese, or the civilized Christian?

  • Margaret looked coolly enough at this devastator of hearts, and thought that her own cousin Carlos was far handsomer.

    Three Margarets Laura E. Richards
  • So Kaupepee resigned his kingship to his brother, and became a fighter, a devastator.

  • It has from time immemorial been known to man in all the countries it inhabits as the devastator of his flocks of sheep.

    The Origin of the Werewolf Superstition Caroline Taylor Stewart
  • Devastation had fallen upon the devastator, the fortress was completely demolished and no dwelling remained.

  • Who is this devastator, this modern "scourge of God," whose deeds are not recorded in history?

    Facts And Fictions Of Life Helen H. Gardener
British Dictionary definitions for devastator


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 devastator



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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