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

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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 On November 27, Ayah was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type 2, which develops in infants between 6 and 12 months. Faith Karimi, CNN, "She's 14 months old and needs a drug that costs $2.1 million to save her life," 31 Mar. 2021 This can lead to glaucomalike atrophy of the nerve, potentially leading to loss of function. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, "Dear Doctor: Should I worry about my varying blood pressure readings?," 26 Mar. 2021 As independent venues atrophy, Wall Street investors and cash-rich monopolists are hunting for bargains. Ron Knox, Wired, "Big Music Needs to Be Broken Up to Save the Industry," 16 Mar. 2021 The company’s primary drug is its spinal muscular atrophy drug Spinraza which is licensed to Biogen BIIB -0.4%. Trefis Team, Forbes, "Centene, Neurocrine, Sarepta: Will These Out Of Favor Healthcare Stocks Outperform?," 12 Mar. 2021 McKenzie, 85, died Feb. 24 after a 10-year battle with muscular system atrophy. Mark Woolsey, ajc, "Kay McKenzie, 85, fought to preserve Chattahoochee parkland in Atlanta," 12 Mar. 2021 Tony Pletcher, a Seattle physical therapist, is concerned that these quick fixes could lead to muscle atrophy. Patricia Marx, The New Yorker, "Is the Pandemic Breaking Our Backs?," 22 Mar. 2021 Readmissions strain hospital resources, and returning patients may be exposed to new infections or develop muscle atrophy from being bedridden. New York Times, "He Was Hospitalized for Covid-19. Then Hospitalized Again. And Again.," 30 Dec. 2020 Much of his recovery in coming months will be focused on strengthening the calf muscle, which tends to atrophy during the healing process post-surgery. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, "Warriors' Klay Thompson out of walking boot, on track for full recovery," 8 Feb. 2021

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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Time Traveler for atrophy

Time Traveler

The first known use of atrophy was in 1601

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Statistics for atrophy

Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Atrophy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atrophy. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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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Comments on atrophy

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