Difference Wiki

Abolish vs. Demolish: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 24, 2023
Abolish means to formally put an end to a system, practice, or institution. Demolish means to physically tear down or destroy a structure.

Key Differences

Abolish refers to the act of formally ending a system, law, or practice, often through legal or official means. In contrast, demolish implies physically destroying something, especially a building or structure, reducing it to rubble.
The usage of abolish is typically in the context of social, political, or legal systems, such as abolishing slavery or a law. On the other hand, demolish is used in the context of physical destruction, like demolishing a building to make way for new construction.
Abolish carries a connotation of progress or improvement by ending something seen as negative or outdated. Conversely, demolish often implies a physical clearing of space, which can be for positive developments or can be seen as destructive.
The process of abolishing is more abstract and intangible, dealing with concepts and laws. Demolishing, in contrast, is a tangible, physical act, often requiring machinery and physical labor.
Abolish is about ending practices or laws, while demolish is about physically tearing down structures. Both can lead to significant changes, but in different realms - social/legal vs. physical/environmental.

Comparison Chart


Legal, social systems
Physical structures


Abstract, intangible
Concrete, tangible


Ending negative/outdated practices
Physical clearing, destruction


Legislative, official decisions
Physical labor, machinery


Systemic, conceptual change
Physical, environmental change

Abolish and Demolish Definitions


To formally end a practice.
They voted to abolish the old voting system.


To destroy the structure of something.
The storm completely demolished the seaside pier.


To do away with completely.
The new policy was designed to abolish inefficiencies in the department.


To forcefully take apart.
The team demolished the old bridge as part of the reconstruction project.


To cease by an authoritative action.
The school board decided to abolish the dress code.


To ruin or devastate.
The fire demolished the historic landmark.


To officially put an end to a law.
The government decided to abolish the outdated law.


To defeat thoroughly.
The home team demolished their rivals in the final match.


To stop something from existing.
The movement aimed to abolish all forms of discrimination.


To tear down a building.
The old factory was demolished to make way for a park.


To do away with; put an end to; annul
Voted to abolish the tax.


To tear down or break apart the structure of; raze.


(Archaic) To destroy completely.


To do away with completely; put an end to
The opposing team's home run demolished any hopes we had of winning the game.


To end a law, system, institution, custom or practice.
Slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century.


To damage (someone's reputation, for example) severely.


(archaic) To put an end to or destroy, as a physical object; to wipe out.


(literally) To destroy (buildings, etc.), especially in a planned or intentional fashion.
They demolished the old mill and put up four townhouses.


To do away with wholly; to annul; to make void; - said of laws, customs, institutions, governments, etc.; as, to abolish slavery, to abolish folly.


(figuratively) To defeat, refute, discredit, or consume utterly (as a theory, belief or opponent).


To put an end to, or destroy, as a physical objects; to wipe out.
And with thy blood abolish so reproachful blot.
His quick instinctive handCaught at the hilt, as to abolish him.


To throw or pull down; to raze; to destroy the fabric of; to pull to pieces; to ruin; as, to demolish an edifice, or a wall.
I expected the fabric of my book would long since have been demolished, and laid even with the ground.


Do away with;
Slavery was abolished in the mid-19th century in America and in Russia


Destroy completely;
The wrecking ball demolished the building
Demolish your enemies
Pulverize the rebellion before it gets out of hand


Humiliate or depress completely;
She was crushed by his refusal of her invitation
The death of her son smashed her


Defeat soundly;
The home team demolished the visitors


What is an example of abolish in a sentence?

"The government plans to abolish the outdated tax law."

What does abolish mean?

It means to formally end or terminate a system, practice, or law.

What does demolish mean?

It means to physically destroy or tear down a structure.

Is demolish always negative?

Not necessarily; it can make way for new development.

Does abolish imply improvement?

Often, it implies removing something negative or outdated.

Can abolish be used for physical objects?

No, it is used for systems, laws, or practices, not physical objects.

Can demolish be used in non-physical contexts?

Typically, it's used for physical destruction, not abstract concepts.

Is abolish a legal term?

It is often used in legal and political contexts.

Can a policy be abolished?

Yes, policies can be abolished through official decisions.

Can a company demolish its products?

Physically, yes, but it's more common to discontinue products.

What is an example of demolish in a sentence?

"The old building was demolished to build a new shopping center."

Can an idea be demolished?

Not literally; demolish is for physical objects.

What tools are used to demolish?

Heavy machinery like bulldozers and wrecking balls.

Is demolish only for buildings?

Primarily, but it can apply to other physical structures too.

Is demolition the same as destruction?

Similar, but demolition is often more controlled and planned.

Is abolish used in everyday language?

Less frequently; it's more formal and specific.

Do both words have the same origin?

No, they have different etymological origins.

Can a person be demolished?

Not physically; it's used for structures.

What is the difference between abolish and repeal?

Repeal is often used specifically for laws, while abolish is broader.

Can abolish have positive implications?

Yes, when it ends negative practices.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons