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 ageG. 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

Examples of decadence in a Sentence

The book condemns the decadence of modern society. a symbol of the decadence of their once-mighty civilization
Recent Examples on the Web Disneyland will once again have a steakhouse after shuttering a clubby and pricey restaurant during the pandemic that took diners back to a bygone era of lavish decadence and old Hollywood glamor with dirty martinis, bone-in rib-eyes and a legendary 24-layer chocolate cake. Brady MacDonald, Orange County Register, 10 Apr. 2024 The exchange demonstrated Andrew’s charm, but also his confidence in his charm—which has had little reason to dwindle through the decades, even as his once fresh good looks have been etched over with the marks of age and decadence. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 4 Apr. 2024 Conservative politicians and talk show hosts demanded those who attended the party face punishment, which some have linked to a broader crackdown on decadence, while the offensive in Ukraine continues facing heavy losses and average citizens struggle to make ends meet. Peter Aitken, Fox News, 20 Jan. 2024 Recently, the decadence and excess of the ’80s has been the style reference of choice for the A-list. Georgia Day, Vogue, 26 Feb. 2024 After a healthy start to the new year in January, the holidays in February call for more decadence—and some well-deserved cheat days. Jenna Anderson, Sunset Magazine, 6 Feb. 2024 The film is a celebration of food, the kind that achieves a balance between simplicity and decadence. Katie Walsh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Feb. 2024 From that limbo, the music turns to delusion, decadence and fantasy. Harmony Holiday, Los Angeles Times, 1 Dec. 2023 This revival means more than just 4,000 pixels that deliver a clearer, brighter digital image; Park’s film intensifies the hostility and decadence that now define our malaise. Armond White, National Review, 6 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'decadence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 18 Apr. 2024.

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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