I think destroy and demolish don't the fit actual idea I'm trying to describe. Let me give an example; let's say we have many columns in a building and we only want to 'destroy' a single column. Is there a specific word for that? Is there a word for destroying a part of a whole structure?

Disclaimer: I'm not a native speaker of English.

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    Chop-off or crop a part of the building? – Nagarajan Shanmuganathan Mar 25 '16 at 11:22
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    Maybe knock down or tear down. – Yay Mar 25 '16 at 11:33
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    AmE: I would say tear down the column or remove the column. It is not uncommon to hear demo (short for demolish) in this context. – bradimus Mar 25 '16 at 11:34
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    I think Knock down fits the context more. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/… – xabush Mar 25 '16 at 11:56
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    "Demolition" is the term generally used for the act of destructively removing some structure, regardless of the size. A work crew may do demolition in a small bathroom in preparation for remodeling, or the demolition of a 40-story building may be performed. – Hot Licks Mar 25 '16 at 12:49

It depends on how it is demolished, aka demoed.

A steel beam might just be removed. A stone column like the ones in Egypt or a masonry chimney might need to be knocked down piece by piece or brick by brick.

Generally for buildings, the word destroyed is reserved for natural disasters or other catastrophes, e.g., destroyed by a fire.

Although correct by definition, most people in the industry wouldn't say chop-off or crop. They would say, "Cut it here, and here. And remove this section." Except, actually for chimneys, which do often get 'cropped'. But I still think remove the top (X feet) is more likely to be said.

Knock-down and tear-down usually refer to the entire subject of the sentence, e.g., tear down this wall.

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English doesn't have a verb ( at least, not one that non-lexicographers will use) that means demolition of part of a structure in the way you want.

By itself, any such verb will apply to the entire structure.

You will always have to name the specific part as the object of the sentence

'Tear down just that porch

or use a general adverb such as partially.

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  • While I won't downvote, and concede that you're almost certainly correct, your first sentence makes a strong and unverified claim. (a) What makes you so sure there's not a word that the demolition industry say uses that you just haven't come across? (b) Do you think there is one that lexicographers might have included in some dictionary? – Edwin Ashworth Mar 25 '16 at 17:39
  • apocope, excision, extricate ... – Mazura Mar 28 '16 at 21:46
  • The concept is invariably transitive, so any verb you may use can be used for part of a structure or the whole, depending on the object of the sentence. Longer and fancier words notwithstanding. – Spencer Mar 28 '16 at 22:40

It would be Selective Demolition of that particular portion of the structure.

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You might consider, amputate

To remove by or as if by cutting; especially: to cut (as a limb) from the body.


That part of the building was amputated from the rest of the hotel.

Atlantic City Weekly

The verandah that formerly encircled the house was amputated, as was part of the roof.

The Old-House Journal, Aug.-Sept. 1984

The room was amputated when part of the hotel had to give way to a thoroughfare.

The Milwaukee Sentinel

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  • This is another suggestion of a non-standard usage. AHDEL and Collins specify the surgical domain for this word, and I've found 1 other Google hit for "building was amputated", and this was as part of a tongue-in-cheek extended metaphor. / 'Prune' is another suggestion I'd say belongs only in a 'comment' here (if anywhere). – Edwin Ashworth Mar 25 '16 at 17:41
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    @EdwinAshworth Can't "amputate" be used for a building by extension? – Elian Mar 25 '16 at 17:48
  • Can't 'prune'? But I wouldn't use something I've seen two examples of unless I wished to appear quirky. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 25 '16 at 18:01

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