A Destroyer (駆逐艦 / くちくかん , Kuchikukan) is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy, or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. The concept stems from the development of Torpedo Boats in the 1870s, and it was felt a fast class of ships was needed to combat this new threat of mobile torpedo launchers - hence, Torpedo Boat Destroyers were born. The first ship named and classified as a destroyer was the Spanish warship Destructor (1886) designed by Fernando Villaamil.
The Imperial Japanese Navy possessed some of the most formidable destroyers in their day. This came as a nasty surprise to the Allies who had generally underestimated Japanese technical capabilities.
In general terms, each nation had a different 'flavour' of destroyer during WW2, the IJN favoured large torpedo based vessels, the British multi-role ships for convoy escots, Germans destroyers favoured heavy guns at the expense of stability, the US designs had increasing amounts of guns and AA, while French and Italian designs were about speed.
Originally, the IJN issued numerical designations to every ship. However, the bland numerical designations were unpopular with the officers and crews. Thus the IJN abolished destroyers' numerical designations in August 1928 and reverted them to names. The reverence held by the Japanese for the arts of war, promoted by the pre-war military governments, led to poetic sounding names for warships. Destroyers were allocated names associated with natural phenomena of weather, sky, and sea. For example, wind (kaze), snow (yuki), rain (ame), clouds (kumo), waves (nami), mist (kiri), frost (shimo), tides (shio), and the moon (tsuki).