atrophy

noun
at·​ro·​phy | \ ˈa-trə-fē How to pronounce atrophy (audio) \
plural atrophies

Definition of atrophy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue atrophy of muscles also : arrested development or loss of a part or organ incidental to the normal development or life of an animal or plant
2 : a wasting away or progressive decline It was not a solitude of atrophy, of negation, but of perpetual flowering.— Willa Cather an atrophy of imagination

atrophy

verb
at·​ro·​phy | \ ˈa-trə-fē How to pronounce atrophy (audio) , -ˌfī How to pronounce atrophy (audio) \
atrophied; atrophying; atrophies

Definition of atrophy (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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 — see also atrophied

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Other Words from atrophy

Noun

atrophic \ (ˌ)ā-​ˈtrō-​fik How to pronounce atrophic (audio) \ adjective

What Can atrophy?

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

Noun

The doctor is concerned about possible atrophy of the shoulder muscles.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Earl Thomas Conley, 77, one of the most popular and prolific country singers of the 1980s, died in Nashville on Wednesday The cause was cerebral atrophy. Seattle Times Staff & News Services, The Seattle Times, "This week’s passages," 12 Apr. 2019 The federal government had just approved the first drug for spinal muscular atrophy, the leading genetic cause of death in infants. Jonathan Saltzman — Boston Globe, STAT, "‘Standing on the shoulders of Spinraza,’ a startup seeks answers to insidious form of epilepsy," 18 May 2018 The federal government had just approved the first drug for spinal muscular atrophy, the leading genetic cause of death in infants. Jonathan Saltzman, BostonGlobe.com, "Startup seeks answers to insidious form of epilepsy," 16 May 2018 All Clear — And Empowered A week later, Hristov called: My brain scans showed no atrophy or other signs of Alzheimer’s risk. Paula Spencer Scott, Woman's Day, "I Participated in a Clinical Study to See if I Had Dementia — Here's What I Learned," 26 Mar. 2019 As in the case with Spinraza and spinal muscular atrophy, Stoke scientists want to get at the genetic roots of the disease rather than treat its symptoms. Jonathan Saltzman, BostonGlobe.com, "Startup seeks answers to insidious form of epilepsy," 16 May 2018 And Jake, aged 12, who was told he couldn't audition for theater roles because of his spinal muscular atrophy. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Had an Emotional Day Meeting Kids With Serious Health Needs," 4 Sep. 2018 And spinal muscular atrophy drug Spinraza, which Biogen launched last year, has performed admirably. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Caution Still Needed on Biogen Alzheimer’s Bounty," 26 July 2018 Type 3 is characterized by a specific type of brain atrophy, seen on an MRI, and generally strikes younger individuals with no family history of Alzheimer’s. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atrophy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of atrophy

Noun

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1863, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for atrophy

Noun

Late Latin atrophia, from Greek, from atrophos ill fed, from a- + trephein to nourish

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Learn More about atrophy

Dictionary Entries near atrophy

atropaceous

atrophia

atrophied

atrophy

atropia

Atropidae

atropine

Statistics for atrophy

Last Updated

9 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for atrophy

The first known use of atrophy was in 1601

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More Definitions for atrophy

atrophy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of atrophy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

medical : gradual loss of muscle or flesh usually because of disease or lack of use

atrophy

verb

English Language Learners Definition of atrophy (Entry 2 of 2)

medical : to become weak from lack of use : to suffer from atrophy

atrophy

noun
at·​ro·​phy | \ ˈa-trə-fē How to pronounce atrophy (audio) \
plural atrophies

Medical Definition of atrophy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue also : arrested development or loss of a part or organ incidental to the normal development or life of an animal or plant

atrophy

verb
\ ˈa-trə-fē How to pronounce atrophy (audio) , -ˌfī How to pronounce atrophy (audio) \
atrophied; atrophying

Medical Definition of atrophy (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to undergo atrophy the inactive muscles atrophied

transitive verb

: to cause to undergo atrophy disuse atrophied the arm

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