decline

1 of 2

verb

de·​cline di-ˈklīn How to pronounce decline (audio)
dē-
declined; declining

intransitive verb

1
: to become less in amount
The price of the stock declined.
2
: to tend toward an inferior state or weaker condition
his health declined
Employee morale declined after the layoffs.
3
: to withhold consent
We invited him but he declined.
4
a
of a celestial body : to sink toward setting
the declining sun
b
: to draw toward a close : wane
the day declined
5
a
: to slope downward : descend
b
: to bend down : droop
… eyes … declining toward the ground …Henry Fielding
c
: to stoop (see stoop entry 1 sense 3b) to what is unworthy
… the direful shameful state Adam declined into …Edward Taylor
6
archaic : to turn from a straight course : stray

transitive verb

1
a
: to refuse especially courteously
decline an invitation
declined to give her name to the reporter
b
: to refuse to undertake, undergo, engage in, or comply with
decline battle
2
grammar : to give in prescribed order the grammatical forms of (a noun, pronoun, or adjective)
decline the Latin adjective "brevis"
3
: to cause to bend or bow downward
… the clover … declines its blooms.W. C. Bryant
4
obsolete
a
: avert
… evasions are sought to decline the pressure of resistless arguments …Samuel Johnson
b
: avoid
… sinners … despairing to decline their fate …Thomas Ken
declinable adjective
decliner noun

decline

2 of 2

noun

de·​cline di-ˈklīn How to pronounce decline (audio)
dē-,
also
ˈdē-ˌklīn How to pronounce decline (audio)
1
: the process of declining:
a period of economic decline
a decline in the local bird population
a
: a gradual physical or mental sinking and wasting away
experiencing a mental decline
b
: a change to a lower state or level
the decline of the aristocracy
2
: the period during which something is deteriorating or approaching its end
an empire in decline
3
: a downward slope
built on a slight decline
4
: a wasting disease
especially : pulmonary tuberculosis
Choose the Right Synonym for decline

Verb

decline, refuse, reject, repudiate, spurn mean to turn away by not accepting, receiving, or considering.

decline often implies courteous refusal especially of offers or invitations.

declined his party's nomination

refuse suggests more positiveness or ungraciousness and often implies the denial of something asked for.

refused to lend them the money

reject implies a peremptory refusal by sending away or discarding.

rejected the manuscript as unpublishable

repudiate implies a casting off or disowning as untrue, unauthorized, or unworthy of acceptance.

teenagers who repudiate the values of their parents

spurn stresses contempt or disdain in rejection or repudiation.

spurned his overtures of friendship

Noun

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 decline in a Sentence

Verb The construction of new houses declined five percent this year. The animal's numbers are declining rapidly. My grandmother's health has been declining since she broke her hip. The civilization began to decline around 1000 B.C. The company declined comment on the scandal. He changed his mind and declined the company's offer. I invited him, but he declined. Noun a period of economic decline He says that American industry is in a state of decline. The town fell into decline after the factory closed down. The economy experienced a decline of two million jobs. We saw a sharp decline in sales this month. Declines led advances at the end of the trading day. There was some decline in stock prices at the end of the trading session.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The bank said the company has turned a corner after years of declining margin. Jim Cramer, CNBC, 16 July 2024 Aaron Erb asks for a minute to finish up his chat with the Bachelorette, but Devin declines. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 16 July 2024
Noun
Yes, that’d be a big decline in growth rate from the prior quarters, but those were disproportionately huge in large part due to the password-sharing crackdown. Brian Welk, IndieWire, 17 July 2024 The alarmist tone to many of the night’s speeches follow a decline in border crossings in recent weeks, after Biden announced last month that the U.S. would stop processing asylum claims when daily arrests for unauthorized crossings spike above 2,500. Brian Bennett, TIME, 17 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for decline 

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French decliner, from Latin declinare to turn aside, inflect, from de- + clinare to incline — more at lean

First Known Use

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 6

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of decline was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near decline

Cite this Entry

“Decline.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decline. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

decline

1 of 2 verb
de·​cline di-ˈklīn How to pronounce decline (audio)
declined; declining
1
a
: to slope downward : descend
b
: to bend down
declined his head
2
: to pass toward a lower state or level
his health declined
their enthusiasm declined
3
: to draw toward a close : wane
the day declined
4
: to become less in amount
prices declined
5
a
: to show unwillingness to accept, do, engage in, or agree to
declined to run for a second term
b
: to refuse especially courteously
declined the offer
6
: to give the declension of a noun, pronoun, or adjective
declinable adjective

decline

2 of 2 noun
1
: the process of declining:
a
: a gradual sinking and wasting away
b
: a change to a lower state or level
2
: the time when something is approaching its end
an empire in decline
3
: a downward slope

Medical Definition

decline

1 of 2 intransitive verb
de·​cline di-ˈklīn How to pronounce decline (audio)
declined; declining
: to tend toward an impaired state or a weaker condition

decline

2 of 2 noun
1
: the process of declining
especially : a gradual physical or mental sinking and wasting away
2
: the period during which the end of life is approaching
3
: a wasting disease
especially : pulmonary tuberculosis

More from Merriam-Webster on decline

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