dec·​a·​dence ˈde-kə-dən(t)s How to pronounce decadence (audio)
 also  di-ˈkā-
: the process of becoming decadent : the quality or state of being decadent
the decadence of modern society
escape the decadence that attends upon old age G. L. Dickinson
: a period of decline
Choose the Right Synonym for decadence

deterioration, degeneration, decadence, decline mean the falling from a higher to a lower level in quality, character, or vitality.

deterioration implies generally the impairment of value or usefulness.

the deterioration of the house through neglect

degeneration stresses physical, intellectual, or especially moral retrogression.

the degeneration of their youthful idealism into cynicism

decadence presupposes a reaching and passing the peak of development and implies a turn downward with a consequent loss in vitality or energy.

cited love of luxury as a sign of cultural decadence

decline differs from decadence in suggesting a more markedly downward direction and greater momentum as well as more obvious evidence of deterioration.

the meteoric decline of his career after the scandal

Example Sentences

The book condemns the decadence of modern society. a symbol of the decadence of their once-mighty civilization
Recent Examples on the Web Dalí loathes abstract painting, to the point of regarding it as a form of decadence. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 18 Sep. 2022 By the third stanza the poem veers into a lament for the glory that was Greece and a contempt of its modern decadence under foreign tyranny. Susan J. Wolfson, The Atlantic, 18 June 2022 The designer’s new address charts the journey from Kolkata to NYC through oak archways and inside a space that transports you into Sabyasachi’s brand of slow luxury and Indian decadence. Shriya Zamindar, Vogue, 19 Oct. 2022 Melt down this foundation for this Tex Mex make-ahead dip—featuring a dream team of decadence cream cheese, mayo, and sour cream—on the stovetop. Karla Walsh, Better Homes & Gardens, 30 Aug. 2022 The art world is almost comically ill-equipped to address climate change, because the commercial sector runs on unbridled decadence. New York Times, 25 Mar. 2022 Sly, self-aware, more obviously street-level as Hollywood cinema entered the era of blockbuster decadence. Darren Franich,, 13 Oct. 2022 The film’s fear-and-condescension title suggests dispassionate decadence. Armond White, National Review, 28 Sep. 2022 And Moscow is really the only one that is preventing this decadence and stopping it. CBS News, 6 July 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle French, from Medieval Latin decadentia, from Late Latin decadent-, decadens, present participle of decadere to fall, sink — more at decay entry 1

First Known Use

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of decadence was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near decadence

Cite this Entry

“Decadence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



dec·​a·​dence ˈdek-əd-ən(t)s How to pronounce decadence (audio)
 also  di-ˈkād-ᵊn(t)s
: a falling off in quality or strength : a sinking to a lower state or level
: the tendency to give in to one's desires for comfort and pleasure
 also  di-ˈkād-ᵊnt
decadent noun
decadently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on decadence

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