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[roo-in] /ˈru ɪn/
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.
a destroyed or decayed building, town, etc.
a fallen, wrecked, or decayed condition:
The building fell to ruin.
the downfall, decay, or destruction of anything.
the complete loss of health, means, position, hope, or the like.
something that causes a downfall or destruction; blight:
Alcohol was his ruin.
the downfall of a person; undoing:
the ruin of Oedipus.
a person as the wreck of his or her former self; ravaged individual.
the act of causing destruction or a downfall.
verb (used with object)
to reduce to ruin; devastate.
to bring (a person, company, etc.) to financial ruin; bankrupt.
to injure (a thing) irretrievably.
to induce (a woman) to surrender her virginity; deflower.
verb (used without object)
to fall into ruins; fall to pieces.
to come to ruin.
Origin of ruin
1325-75; (noun) Middle English ruine < Middle French < Latin ruīna headlong rush, fall, collapse, equivalent to ru(ere) to fall + -īna -ine2; (v.) (< Middle French ruiner) < Medieval Latin ruīnāre, derivative of Latin ruīna
Related forms
ruinable, adjective
ruiner, noun
half-ruined, adjective
nonruinable, adjective
self-ruin, noun
self-ruined, adjective
unruinable, adjective
3. 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.
4. construction, creation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ruins
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But for some reason this town, also, died and left the ruins alone.

    Buried Cities, Part 2 Jennie Hall
  • And the sacred "ordinance," with all other proprieties, was left in ruins that day.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • The Landscape with ruins (No. 746) is perhaps the finest of the others there.

    Six Centuries of Painting Randall Davies
  • He leaves no permanent monument, no ruins of former greatness.

  • The rivers were dragged, the wells examined, the ruins raked, but in vain.

    Brother Against Brother John Roy Musick
British Dictionary definitions for ruins


destroyed or decayed building or town
the state or condition of being destroyed or decayed
loss of wealth, position, etc, or something that causes such loss; downfall
something that is severely damaged: his life was a ruin
a person who has suffered a downfall, bankruptcy, etc
loss of value or usefulness
(archaic) loss of her virginity by a woman outside marriage
(transitive) to bring to ruin; destroy
(transitive) to injure or spoil: the town has been ruined with tower blocks
(intransitive) (archaic or poetic) to fall into ruins; collapse
Derived Forms
ruinable, adjective
ruiner, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French ruine, from Latin ruīna a falling down, from ruere to fall violently
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 ruins



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with ruins


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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