I have the following sentence:

Can strong winds ______ a tall building?

Otherwise, I would have to ask "Can strong winds make a tall building fall?"

What is the suitable verb?

  • Can strong winds damage a tall building? Can strong winds destroy a tall building? – Weather Vane Apr 18 at 17:57
  • @WeatherVane A building could be destroyed / damaged without falling. Can you suggest something that makes the point of falling more clear. – shoelace Apr 18 at 18:02
  • if I would have asked - Can strong winds make a tall person fall? then? – shoelace Apr 18 at 18:04
  • Yes: demolish but there is a quite different meaning when demolish is applied to a person, now you have moved the question. Please don't make it like shifting sand. – Weather Vane Apr 18 at 18:04
  • @WeatherVane I'm sorry , but I am trying to help you reach the answer – shoelace Apr 18 at 18:08

An idiomatic way of asking this in English is

"Can strong winds blow a tall building over?"

Blow over: verb, intrasitive/transitive, if something is blown over, the wind made it fall- Macmillan

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  • I think this sounds more appropriate than the rest . – shoelace Apr 21 at 19:17

Going on from comments, the word topple seems clear. Lexico has


Overbalance or cause to overbalance and fall.

This can be applied equally to structures or people, and can be used both physically and metaphorically.

Can strong winds topple a tall building?

Can a newspaper topple an empire?

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  • That's so extreme. What about "sway"? – Jack O'Flaherty Apr 18 at 20:10
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    @JackO'Flaherty I had originally intended to put "sway" as a comment until OP mentioned it has to be clear that it falls, and swaying is definitely not falling. But "swaying" rocks. – Weather Vane Apr 18 at 20:32
  • Thanks Weather Vane and Jack. – shoelace Apr 18 at 22:55
  • @WeatherVane He did say that, I didn't read close enough! – Jack O'Flaherty Apr 18 at 23:54

The most common ones would be the phrasal verbs "knock over" and "blow down".

In formal writing, you might prefer "topple".

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    thanks gotube, knock down and blow down are great answers – shoelace Apr 18 at 22:56

There is a verb fell, which is defined as 'to knock, strike, shoot, or cut down; cause to fall', but it is almost always used for trees (usually by cutting) or large animals (usually by shooting).

Surprisingly, Google shows a very small number of usages related to buildings, for example:

The cost to fell a building or other structure by use of explosives may be less expensive than demolition by conventional means.

One of the first documented attempts to actually fell a building with explosives occurred in 1605 ...

... you cannot fell a building like a tree

It is a regular verb - the past tense is felled.

An 11-month-old boy was rescued from rubble, 35 hours after a deadly explosion felled a building in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk. (From no less a source than the Washington Post.)

But this is very rare and very unusual), and I am not suggesting that you use it. In fact, I am suggesting that you don't use it.

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If you want to say the building is completely destroyed, you could use: - Can strong winds raze a tall building?

Raze - completely destroy (a building, town, or other settlement).

  • villages were razed to the ground (Lexico)

The problem with this word though:

  1. in speech it sounds like "raise"
  2. it's not a common word
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    In addition to what @SarahBowman noted, ‘raze’ is generally used in terms of human action, and generally implies burning, smashing etc. It’s hardly a word used for wind causing buildings to fall. – Fivesideddice Apr 20 at 1:23
  • I think a strong wind caused by something like a tornado, a hurricane, or a nuclear explosion could be said to have razed a town. – nick012000 Apr 20 at 6:30

Can strong winds blast a tall building?

IMHO this would fit for a strong gust of wind, and indeed a very strong gust of wind would be necessary to make a building fall anyway.

"Blast" conveys the idea of explosion, IMHO including the idea of being moved aside and falling. IMHO this idea of falling is subtly different from topple, which does not include the idea of destruction.

From https://www.wordreference.com/definition/blast#advanced_18


to shatter by or as if by an explosion; ruin or destroy: [~ + object]blasted the enemy communications center.

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