If a storm devastates your town, it comes pretty close to destroying it. To devastate is to cause destruction to or overwhelm.

Really bad news can devastate a person, or leave them devastated. They are so upset, they feel crushed. A basketball team can devastate an opponent by running roughshod over their defense. The root of the word is the Latin vastare which means to lay waste, which comes from vastus meaning desolate or empty. Imagine a city laid waste after a major earthquake and you've got the picture!

Definitions of devastate

v cause extensive destruction or ruin utterly

desolate, lay waste to, ravage, scourge, waste
reduce to ruins
Type of:
destroy, ruin
destroy completely; damage irreparably

v overwhelm or overpower

“He was devastated by his grief when his son died”
Type of:
overcome, overpower, overtake, overwhelm, sweep over, whelm
overcome, as with emotions or perceptual stimuli

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