dec·​li·​na·​tion ˌde-klə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce declination (audio)
plural declinations
: angular distance north or south from the celestial equator measured along a great circle passing through the celestial poles
: a turning aside or swerving
: deterioration
moral declination
: a bending downward : inclination
: a formal refusal
law : a decision by a prosecutor not to pursue an indictment
: the angle formed between a magnetic needle and the geographical meridian
declinational adjective

Examples of declination in a Sentence

there's been a declination in basic civility in our society congressional declinations of cabinet appointments have been relatively infrequent, most senators believing that the president is entitled to pick his own advisors
Recent Examples on the Web The show offered all three writers new contracts as soon as was allowed after the WGA strike's conclusion, and in the wake of their declination, the show is interviewing new writers and will proceed in compliance with the guild's standards. Wesley Stenzel,, 4 Oct. 2023 Only about roughly 7 percent of declinations are at prosecutors’ discretion, almost all involving would-be first offenders accused of misdemeanor violations, Graves said. Emily Davies, Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2024 An additional 4 percent were referred for prosecution elsewhere, meaning the declination rate is closer to 40 percent, and that the office is effectively prosecuting nearly six in 10 arrests, Graves said. Emily Davies, Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2024 In contrast, Special Counsel Hur is specifically charged by the Special Counsel regulations and his appointment order with making charging and declination decisions. Stefan Becket, CBS News, 15 Feb. 2024 Al-Mateen was driving the car that fled, according to a declination report posted online by Baltimore prosecutors, which did not identify him by name. Darcy Costello, Baltimore Sun, 1 Sep. 2023 George Gascón decided to reopen the case against Matthew Concannon and Anthony Chavez following his predecessor’s declination to prosecute in 2019. Ryan Fonseca, Los Angeles Times, 18 Apr. 2023 Within days of the declination, a judge approved a request from Descano to impanel a special grand jury to probe the case, renewing the possibility that Shifflett could be charged. Olivia Diaz, Washington Post, 5 May 2023 Some places, like anywhere near the Mississippi River, which coincidentally runs the same direction as a magnetic-field line, are currently at about zero degrees declination. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Jan. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'declination.' 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 English declinacioun, from Middle French declination, from Latin declination-, declinatio angle of the heavens, turning aside

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of declination was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near declination

Cite this Entry

“Declination.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


dec·​li·​na·​tion ˌdek-lə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce declination (audio)
: angular distance north or south from the celestial equator measured along a great circle passing through the celestial poles
the declination of a star
: a bending downward : inclination
: the angle that the magnetic needle makes with a true north and south line

More from Merriam-Webster on declination

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