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)

transitive + intransitive

: 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

Other Words from atrophy

Noun

atrophic \ (ˌ)ā-​ˈtrō-​fik How to pronounce atrophy (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 And it is countered by other studies suggesting that maintenance on the drugs may actually worsen outcomes and even cause brain atrophy, though these findings have been debated. New York Times, 17 May 2022 The cause was multiple system atrophy, said a daughter, Rosie Donaldson. Mrs. Pannoni was born Lisa Sherman in Washington. Washington Post, 5 May 2022 Colletti told Kasten about how much the Dodgers, once the game’s gold standard for player development, had let their minor league system atrophy, particularly in Latin America. Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, 29 Apr. 2022 In young mice that were immobilized — which normally causes atrophy of bone and muscle — providing extra BAIBA kept both bones and muscle healthy. Amber Dance, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Mar. 2022 Their bodies begin to atrophy from malnourishment, and daily tasks like getting water or checking traps become much more of a struggle. Phillip Dwight Morgan, Outside Online, 28 July 2021 The software was developed for people with cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, brain injury and various neurological disorders. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, 20 Feb. 2022 The dangers there lie less in the substances but the anecdotes, which, after reaching a certain level of repetition, atrophy into proxies for a personality. Los Angeles Times, 18 Feb. 2022 Two years ago, my gynecologist prescribed Vagifem for severe vaginal atrophy. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 15 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About atrophy

Time Traveler for atrophy

Time Traveler

The first known use of atrophy was in 1601

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Dictionary Entries Near atrophy

atrophied

atrophy

atropia

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for atrophy

Last Updated

27 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Atrophy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atrophy. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for 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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