Definition of atrophy
- atrophy of muscles
- It was not a solitude of atrophy, of negation, but of perpetual flowering.
- —Willa Cather
- an atrophy of imagination
The doctor is concerned about possible atrophy of the shoulder muscles.
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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.
medical : gradual loss of muscle or flesh usually because of disease or lack of use
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