Annihilation Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It?

Wondering about the meaning of annihilation? You’re in the right place! Read on to discover everything you need to know about annihilation.

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Whether from the news, social media, history class, or a video game, you’ve likely come across the word annihilation — but what exactly does it mean? We’ll tell you. 

Read on to discover our complete guide on the term annihilation to learn its definition, origin, synonyms, antonyms, and more. 

What Is the Definition of Annihilation?

Surely by now, you’ve heard of the noun annihilation in reference to total destruction or extinction. What if we were to tell you that there was a bit more to its meaning than just that?

Don’t take our word for it; read on to see what many trusted English dictionaries say about the noun annihilation.

  • According to Collins Dictionary, annihilation refers to the conversion of a mass into energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. 
  • tells us that annihilation can also be called pair annihilation in physics. Which itself refers to the process in which an antiparticle and particle unite in turn, “annihilating” one another, producing a single or multiple photons — such as a positron and an electron.
  • Alternatively, Cambridge English Dictionary simply refers to annihilation as the act of completely destroying something, leaving nothing, and defeating completely.

Just like there is no reason to cry over spilled milk, there would be no need to use annihilation in such a situation. Annihilation is reserved for more horrific, total destruction, end of the world type situations. 

What Is the Etymology of Annihilation?

As we really begin to understand the meaning of a word, one of our best tools is studying a word’s etymology (AKA, its origin). 

Etymology is the history of a word, tracing all the places and ways it has changed over time, from its definition to its spelling.

Annihilation had its first noted use in the 1630s as “an act of reducing to nonexistence.” 

Annihilation comes from the French word annihilation, directly from the Medieval Latin annihilation and Late Latin annihilātiō or annihilatio.

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Annihilation?

If you look at any trusted thesaurus, you’ll quickly see there are a variety of words that we can use in place of the word annihilation. 

These “synonyms” are phrases or words that have a similar or often the same definition as another word. 

Not only do these words help us to avoid repeating ourselves in conversation, but synonyms and antonyms are also outstanding tools we can use to expand our knowledge of the English language.

Below are examples of synonyms:

  • Antimatter
  • Act of annihilating
  • Obliteration
  • Ethnic cleansing
  • Blood and guts
  • Search and destroy
  • Destruction
  • Final straw
  • Extermination
  • Wiping out
  • Rooting out
  • Slaughter
  • Passing away
  • Desolation 
  • Mass destruction
  • Taking out
  • Armageddon
  • Eradication
  • Nuclear annihilation
  • Massacre 
  • Complete annihilation
  • Nonexistence
  • Retraction
  • Rescission
  • Abatement
  • Rescinding 
  • Total destruction
  • Indiscriminate bloodshed
  • Liquidation
  • Annihilation of a corporation

When a word has the opposite meaning to your original, we refer to these as antonyms. Like synonyms, these alternate definitions are a great way to memorize the definition of the original word. 

Below are examples of antonyms:

  • Setting up
  • Surrender
  • Fabricating
  • Triumph
  • Good luck
  • Fulfillment
  • Success 
  • Prosperity 
  • Rejuvenation
  • Retention
  • Creation
  • Harmony
  • Enactment
  • Establishment
  • Foreign aid
  • Construction
  • Boon 
  • Reconstruction
  • Building
  • Development aid
  • Recovery
  • Allowance
  • Advantage
  • Attainment
  • Good fortune

How Can Annihilation Be Used in a Sentence?

Now that we understand the backstory and the meaning behind annihilation, let’s review how to properly use the noun in a sentence. Try using annihilation in a sentence today! 

Below you will find many example sentences of annihilation:

WOW! We had no idea the entire time we were within yards of our annihilation.

Is there any annihilation that can give off gamma rays within certain wavelengths? 

Eerie feelings of the Cold War and its threat of nuclear annihilation have come creeping back into modern culture.

Are you going to be able to let me borrow your unabridged edition of the book Annihilation: Alien Invasion?

I loved learning about photons, electrons, and the antimatter annihilation theories we discussed in class today.

In class today, we learned about the British English definition of annihilation.

What we worry most about with overhunting and poaching is the looming threat of the annihilation of an entire species.

The movie’s concept is the same as most thrillers today — complete annihilation of the main character’s opposition. 

The Recap

The point we are making here is simple; whether you’re talking about two particles annihilating one another or the act of completely destroying another entity — annihilation is defined as the total destruction of something or someone. 

Remember, annihilation has that “the world is about to end” vibe attached to it, so try to use it sparingly. 

For instance, it shouldn’t be used if you’re bummed about your favorite show coming to a close — it’s more like a tsunami clearing out an entire seaside village or a wildfire annihilating yet another forest. Those are proper times to use the noun annihilation.


  1. ANNIHILATE : definition | Cambridge English Dictionary
  2. Annihilation synonyms Words and Phrases for Annihilation | Power Thesaurus
  3. Annihilation Definition & Meaning |
  4. Annihilate definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary