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mass destruction

Widespread death and devastation. If they launch a nuclear attack against us, it will cause mass destruction.
See also: destruction, mass

weapon of mass destruction

Any weapon, especially one that is nuclear, chemical, or biological in nature, that can be used to end lives and cause damage on a very large scale. Popularized in recent times by the administration of US President George W. Bush in relation to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Sometimes used for hyperbolic, sarcastic, or humorous effect. The report concluded that the country had been manufacturing weapons of mass destruction in order to cause as much death and destruction as possible. Ugh, crack a window, dude—that fart was a weapon of mass destruction!
See also: destruction, mass, of, weapon

wreak (something) on (someone or something)

To cause a lot of something very bad to happen to someone or something. Used especially with "destruction," "havoc," and "vengeance." This humidity is wreaking havoc on my hair. The twister wreaked untold destruction on the tiny town. She swore she would wreak vengeance on the man who double-crossed her.
See also: on, wreak

wreak (something) upon (someone or something)

To cause a lot of something very bad to happen to someone or something. Used especially with "destruction," "havoc," and "vengeance." This humidity is wreaking havoc upon my hair. The twister wreaked untold destruction upon the tiny town.
See also: upon, wreak
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

weapons of mass destruction

Also, WMD. Weapons that can greatly harm or kill large numbers of people and/or severely damage man-made structures or the biosphere. The term was first used by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1937 with reference to the aerial bombardment of Guernica, Spain. Less than a decade later, the term was applied to nonconventional weapons, specifically nuclear weapons. During the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the term was used by President John F. Kennedy, referring to nuclear missiles. Fearing Iraq’s use of nuclear weapons, the alleged existence of such weapons became the main justification for the 2003 invasion of that country. By then, the term was so well known and so often abbreviated that it was on its way to clichédom.
See also: destruction, mass, of, weapon
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in classic literature ?
With plants there is a vast destruction of seeds, but, from some observations which I have made, I believe that it is the seedlings which suffer most from germinating in ground already thickly stocked with other plants.
Thus, there seems to be little doubt that the stock of partridges, grouse, and hares on any large estate depends chiefly on the destruction of vermin.
I estimated that the winter of 1854-55 destroyed four-fifths of the birds in my own grounds; and this is a tremendous destruction, when we remember that ten per cent.
That climate acts in main part indirectly by favouring other species, we may clearly see in the prodigious number of plants in our gardens which can perfectly well endure our climate, but which never become naturalised, for they cannot compete with our native plants, nor resist destruction by our native animals.
For in such cases, we may believe, that a plant could exist only where the conditions of its life were so favourable that many could exist together, and thus save each other from utter destruction. I should add that the good effects of frequent intercrossing, and the ill effects of close interbreeding, probably come into play in some of these cases; but on this intricate subject I will not here enlarge.
What of the hard times and the consequent vast army of the unemployed; what of the destruction of the farmers and the middle class; and what of the decisive defeat administered all along the line to the labor unions; the socialists were really justified in believing that the end of capitalism had come and in themselves throwing down the gauntlet to the Plutocracy.
It was the very thing the Oligarchy had played for--the destruction of its great rival in the world- market.
It was clear that human agency was behind all this destruction, and it was equally clear, through Emil Gluck's impartiality, that the destruction was not the work of any particular nation.
It is true, Bannerman was in Vallejo, on secret government business, at the time of the destruction of Mare Island; and it is true that on the streets of Vallejo Emil Gluck was pointed out to him as a queer crank; but no impression was made at the time.
Where was Gluck at the time of the destruction along the Atlantic sea-board?
As he said, had he dreamed that he was ever to be discovered he would have worked more rapidly and accomplished a thousand times the destruction he did.
Whatever destruction was done, the hand of the destroyer was stayed.
Such German airships as escaped destruction in battle descended and surrendered to the Americans, and were re-manned, and in the end it became a series of pitiless and heroic encounters between the Americans, savagely resolved to exterminate their enemies, and a continually reinforced army of invasion from Asia quartered upon the Pacific slope and supported by an immense fleet.
After the destruction of central New York all America had risen like one man, resolved to die a thousand deaths rather than submit to Germany.
One Asiatic either rammed or collided with a still more gigantic German, and the two went spinning to destruction together.