: to lower in character or dignity <Mom feels that dressing animals in costumes degrades them.>
: to break down or separate into simpler parts or substances <Bacteria will degrade the spilled pollutant.>
: to reduce from a higher to a lower rank or degree <He was degraded to a private by his commander.>
Word Root of DEGRADE
The Latin word gradus, meaning “step” or “degree,” gives us the root grad. Words from the Latin gradus have something to do with steps. Anything gradual happens slowly one step at a time. To degrade is to reduce from a higher to a lower degree. A grade is a step in school made up of one year of work. Even the word degree itself has gradus as its root.
transitive verbde·grade \di-ˈgrād\
Medical Definition of DEGRADE
: to reduce the complexity of (a chemical compound) by splitting off one or more groups or larger components :decompose<cellulose is degraded by the action of some bacteria>