decay
I. verb Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French decaïr, from Late Latin decadere to fall, sink, from Latin de- + cadere to fall — more at chance Date: 15th century intransitive verb 1. to decline from a sound or prosperous condition 2. to decrease usually gradually in size, quantity, activity, or force 3. to fall into ruin 4. to decline in health, strength, or vigor 5. to undergo decomposition <
decaying fruit
>
transitive verb 1. obsolete to cause to decay ; impair <
infirmity that decays the wise — Shakespeare
>
2. to destroy by decomposition • decayer noun Synonyms: decay, decompose, rot, putrefy, spoil mean to undergo destructive dissolution. decay implies a slow change from a state of soundness or perfection <
a decaying mansion
>
. decompose stresses a breaking down by chemical change and when applied to organic matter a corruption <
the strong odor of decomposing vegetation
>
. rot is a close synonym of decompose and often connotes foulness <
fruit was left to rot in warehouses
>
. putrefy implies the rotting of animal matter and offensiveness to sight and smell <
corpses putrefying on the battlefield
>
. spoil applies chiefly to the decomposition of foods <
keep the ham from spoiling
>
. II. noun Date: 15th century 1. gradual decline in strength, soundness, or prosperity or in degree of excellence or perfection 2. a wasting or wearing away ; ruin 3. obsolete destruction, death 4. a. rot; specifically aerobic decomposition of proteins chiefly by bacteria b. the product of decay 5. a decline in health or vigor 6. decrease in quantity, activity, or force: as a. spontaneous decrease in the number of radioactive atoms in radioactive material b. spontaneous disintegration (as of an atom or a particle)

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Decay — De*cay , n. 1. Gradual failure of health, strength, soundness, prosperity, or of any species of excellence or perfection; tendency toward dissolution or extinction; corruption; rottenness; decline; deterioration; as, the decay of the body; the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • decay — vb Decay, decompose, rot, putrefy, spoil, disintegrate, crumble mean to undergo or, in some cases, to cause something to undergo destructive dissolution. Decay implies change, commonly a natural and gradual change, from a state of soundness or… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • decay — [dē kā′, dikā′] vi. [ME decaien < Anglo Fr & OFr decäir < VL * decadere: see DECADENCE] 1. to lose strength, soundness, health, beauty, prosperity, etc. gradually; waste away; deteriorate 2. to rot or decompose 3. to undergo radioactive… …   English World dictionary

  • Decay — De*cay , v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Decayed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Decaying}.] [OF. decaeir, dechaer, decheoir, F. d[ e]choir, to decline, fall, become less; L. de + cadere to fall. See {Chance}.] To pass gradually from a sound, prosperous, or perfect… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Decay — De*cay , v. t. 1. To cause to decay; to impair. [R.] [1913 Webster] Infirmity, that decays the wise. Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. To destroy. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • decay — [n] breaking down, collapse adulteration, atrophy, blight, caries, consumption, corrosion, crumbling, decadence, decline, decomposition, decrease, decrepitude, degeneracy, degeneration, depreciation, deterioration, dilapidation, disintegration,… …   New thesaurus

  • decay — I verb addle, atrophy, be reduced in worth, become enfeebled, become lower in quality, become putrescent, blight, break down, break up, canker, consume, corrode, corrupt, crumble, decline, decompose, decompound, degenerate, depreciate,… …   Law dictionary

  • decay — ► VERB 1) rot through the action of bacteria and fungi. 2) decline in quality or vigour. 3) Physics (of a radioactive substance, particle, etc.) undergo change to a different form by emitting radiation. ► NOUN 1) the state or process of decaying …   English terms dictionary

  • Decay — Contents 1 Science and technlogy 1.1 Biology 1.2 Physics 1.3 …   Wikipedia

  • decay — {{Roman}}I.{{/Roman}} noun ADJECTIVE ▪ rapid ▪ slow ▪ dental (esp. BrE), tooth ▪ industrial (esp. BrE), urban …   Collocations dictionary

  • decay — 01. The [decaying] leaves in the garden are actually good for it and make the soil richer. 02. Tooth [decay] is preventable with proper oral hygiene. 03. The dentist said my tooth is so [decayed] that he may have to pull it. 04. The rise in… …   Grammatical examples in English

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