: to waste away (as from disease or disuse) : to undergo atrophy
Extended periods of weightlessness resulted in body fluids pooling in the upper torso, causing changes in how the heart pumped blood. In addition, muscles began to atrophy, bones lost calcium and mass …—Warren E. Leary
Because of an incomplete spine, only one nerve serviced her legs, causing them to atrophy.—Ada Brownell
Communion with nature strengthens both body and soul; isolation from nature causes both to atrophy.—Mark Purcell
also: to cause (something) to waste away or undergo atrophy
When reform becomes too theological, it atrophies some forces even while it galvanizes others. —John C. Culver
From its literal Greek roots, atrophy would mean basically "lack of nourishment". Although the English word doesn't usually imply any lack of food, it always refers to a wasting away. Those who have been bedridden for a period of time will notice that their muscles have atrophied. And muscular atrophy is a frequent result of such diseases as cancer and AIDS. We also use atrophy in a much more general sense. After being out of work a few years, you may find your work skills have atrophied; someone who's been living an isolated life may discover the same thing about his or her social skills; and a democracy can atrophy when its citizens cease to pay attention to how they're being governed.
Examples of atrophy in a Sentence
The doctor is concerned about possible atrophy of the shoulder muscles.
Recent Examples on the Web
It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration only as a vaginal insert to treat vulvar and vaginal atrophy.—Yeganeh Torbati, Washington Post, 30 July 2023 Others are dementia with Lewy bodies, multiple system atrophy and pure autonomic failure.—The Conversation, oregonlive, 29 May 2023 Extensive physical therapy and rehab will follow, since the injury and ensuing surgery will lead to muscle atrophy and a loss of strength.—David K. Li, NBC News, 12 Sep. 2023 In the United States today, pregnant women can find out whether their unborn child has cystic fibrosis, fragile X syndrome, spinal muscular atrophy, or many other conditions.—Krithika Varagur, Harper's Magazine, 10 July 2023 The result has been widespread atrophy in this society of refugees.—Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 Sep. 2023 As our muscles atrophy with age, consider upping your strength and resistance training.—Byalexa Mikhail, Fortune Well, 5 Sep. 2023 Zolgensma offsets the degeneration of nerve cells in children with spinal muscular atrophy.—WIRED, 4 Sep. 2023 Veterinarians then realized the birds’ efforts to free themselves from the tar led to capture myopathy — muscle damage and atrophy caused by a stressed animal’s extreme struggling.—Vanessa Arredondo, Los Angeles Times, 17 Aug. 2023
The overall effect was that although the United States remained the world’s preeminent power, some of its most vital muscles atrophied.—Jake Sullivan, Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 The defense-industrial base that was once the foundation of American power has atrophied in ways that would astonish previous generations.—The Editors, National Review, 17 Oct. 2023 Starting with the collapse of the Terra Luna stablecoin last May and compounded by the subsequent failures of hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, crypto lender Celsius, and crypto exchange FTX, the industry has atrophied.—WIRED, 27 Sep. 2023 Between 2003 and 2016, according to the authors of the Rand report, training and readiness for Army field artillery atrophied as the service reduced its active field artillery battalions by nearly half, from 96 to 50.—Hope Hodge Seck, Popular Mechanics, 21 Aug. 2023 Its industrial and technological strength has atrophied, its vital supply chains are vulnerable, its alliances are frayed, and its government is hollowed out.—Hillary Rodham Clinton, Foreign Affairs, 9 Oct. 2020 The system then atrophied, with the army knocked out of its complacency once again by setbacks experienced during the Crimean War.—Huw J. Davies, Foreign Affairs, 18 Apr. 2023 Either the institutional mechanisms that should spare the incumbent president this embarrassment have atrophied, or a sizable minority of Democrats no longer responds to them.—Noah Rothman, National Review, 1 May 2023 Part of the cultural fabric of the city for more than a century, the tram system has been allowed to atrophy for a lack of riders.—Ahmer Khan, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Apr. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'atrophy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Late Latin atrophia, from Greek, from atrophos ill fed, from a- + trephein to nourish