1. tending or threatening to devastate: a devastating fire.
  2. satirical, ironic, or caustic in an effective way: a devastating portrayal of society.

verb (used with object), dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing.

  1. to lay waste; render desolate: The invaders devastated the city.
  2. to overwhelm.


  1. extremely effective in a destructive waya devastating war; a devastating report on urban deprivation

verb (tr)

  1. to lay waste or make desolate; ravage; destroy
  2. to confound or overwhelm, as with grief or shock

1630s, present participle adjective from devastate. Trivial use by 1889.


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.

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