atrophy

noun at·ro·phy \ ˈa-trə-fē \
Updated on: 16 Nov 2017

Definition of atrophy

plural atrophies
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

atrophic

play \(ˌ)ā-ˈtrō-fik\ adjective

atrophy

play \ˈa-trə-fē, -ˌfī\ verb
    • muscles atrophying from lack of use
    • Communion with nature strengthens both body and soul; isolation from nature causes both to atrophy.
    • —Mark Purcell

Examples of atrophy in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples of atrophy from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of atrophy

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


ATROPHY Defined for English Language Learners

atrophy

noun

Definition of atrophy for English Language Learners

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


Medical Dictionary

1

atrophy

noun at·ro·phy \ ˈa-trə-fē \

medical Definition of atrophy

plural atrophies
: 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

2

atrophy

verb \ ˈa-trə-fē , -ˌfī \

medical Definition of atrophy

atrophied; atrophying
intransitive verb
: to undergo atrophy
  • the inactive muscles atrophied
transitive verb
: to cause to undergo atrophy
  • disuse atrophied the arm


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