declension

noun de·clen·sion \ di-ˈklen(t)-shən \

Definition of declension

1 a : noun, adjective, or pronoun inflection especially in some prescribed order of the forms
b : a class of nouns or adjectives having the same type of inflectional forms
2 : a falling off or away : deterioration
3 : descent, slope

declensional

play \-ˈklen(t)-shə-nᵊl\ adjective

declension was our Word of the Day on 04/05/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of declension in a Sentence

  1. a noticeable declension of the fitness of the baseball players over the winter

  2. a declension in her acting career from leading roles to cameos eventually

The Evolution of declension

Declension came into English (via Middle French) in the first half of the 15th century, originating in the Latin verb declinare, meaning "to inflect" or "to turn aside." The word seems to have whiled away its time in the narrow field of grammar until Shakespeare put a new sense of the word in his play Richard III in 1593: "A beauty-waning and distressed widow / … Seduc'd the pitch and height of his degree / To base declension and loath'd bigamy." This "deterioration" sense led within a few decades to the newest sense of the word still in common use, "descent" or "slope." The 19th century saw still another new sense of the word—meaning "a courteous refusal"—but that sense has remained quite rare.

Origin and Etymology of declension

Middle English declenson, modification of Middle French declinaison, from Latin declination-, declinatio grammatical inflection, turning aside, from declinare to inflect, turn aside

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up declension? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

ditzy

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!