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

Definition of decline

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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.
4a of a celestial body : to sink toward setting the declining sun
b : to draw toward a close : wane the day declined
5a : 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

1a : 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


de·​cline | \ di-ˈklīn How to pronounce decline (audio) , dē- also ˈdē-ˌklīn How to pronounce decline (audio) \

Definition of decline (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from decline


declinable \ di-​ˈklī-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce declinable (audio) \ adjective
decliner \ di-​ˈklī-​nər How to pronounce decliner (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for decline


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


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The company's stock price has fallen by more than 95 percent since its IPO in 2018, with declining sales, mounting losses, and a struggle to raise cash to pay for development even before the COVID-19 crisis arrived. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, "Aston Martin Swaps CEO Andy Palmer for Mercedes-AMG's Tobias Moers," 26 May 2020 Mullins declined to comment for this story, saying through an aide her decision speaks for itself. Arizona Republic, "‘All I know is I am the father’: He fought DCS for 5 years to get back a daughter he didn't know," 25 May 2020 Lysette declined to comment further for this story. Nick Romano,, "Legendary bosses respond to initial controversy: 'My job is to make sure that you're wrong'," 21 May 2020 Of those, the clinic would learn, two tested positive and one negative; two others declined to get tested, Furtado said. Matthias Gafni, San Francisco Chronicle, "He treats Oakland's vulnerable. Now, his future is on the line," 21 May 2020 Now the postal service faces what may be an existential crisis: The coronavirus has sent the nation’s already-declining mail volume into a new nadir. National Geographic, "CREATE A FREE NAT GEO ACCOUNT TO CONTINUE READING," 18 May 2020 Some public health experts say declining case rates should be one guide for figuring when states should relax social distancing restrictions. Jason Hanna, CNN, "These are the states with coronarvirus cases falling and rising the most," 15 May 2020 The new decision was made with cooperation from experts, Abe said, after taking into account the declining rate of infections, and improved availability of medical services and monitoring capabilities. NBC News, "Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.," 15 May 2020 Police declined to charge Mr. Alvarez, who said the encounter was consensual. ... Kate King, WSJ, "Former New Jersey Governor Campaign Volunteer Settles Assault Lawsuit for $1 Million," 15 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Much of the decline in travel and eating in restaurants predated formal rules about social distancing. Jessica Gold, STAT, "Don’t use ‘deaths of despair’ as rationale for reopening the country too soon," 31 May 2020 Arizona's percentage of positive cases out of the number of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for active infection has not shown a clear pattern of decline. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "COVID-19 emergency room visits have been climbing in Arizona; hit high point this week," 29 May 2020 Much of the decline was driven by a sharp drop-off in consumer spending -- especially on, of all things, elective health care procedures. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for May 29: George Floyd, Twitter, task force, Pennsylvania, economy," 29 May 2020 The Republican governor’s comments came as state data showed the number of new daily infections trending upward after weeks of decline. USA TODAY, "Disney World, SeaWorld, petrified forest, Wisconsin state fair: News from around our 50 states," 29 May 2020 Part of the decline could be due to the holiday weekend. Rich Exner, cleveland, "Mapping Ohio’s 33,915 coronavirus cases, updates, trends," 28 May 2020 Gasoline-car sales in April rose 6% from a year earlier, snapping a 21-month streak of declines, but EVs were down 27%—a sharp reversal for a segment that had outperformed the overall market until this year. Trefor Moss, WSJ, "Electric-Car Sales Shrink in China but Remain a Government Priority," 26 May 2020 The great number of mammoths gives scientists a rare chance to study possible causes of the decline of mammoths, which occurred around 10,000 years ago. Fox News, "Experts find bones of dozens of mammoths in Mexico City," 24 May 2020 Ever since Detroit's fortunes began to change after years of decline, there’s been a persistent narrative that contrasts the revival of downtown and Midtown with the neighborhoods. John Carlisle,, "Detroit neighborhood group sees gentrification as the enemy," 24 May 2020

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

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First Known Use of decline


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for decline

Verb and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for decline

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for decline

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decline.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for decline


How to pronounce decline (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of decline

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to become lower in amount or less in number
: to become worse in condition or quality
: to say that you will not or cannot do something


How to pronounce decline (audio) How to pronounce decline (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of decline (Entry 2 of 2)

: the process of becoming worse in condition or quality
: a change to a lower number or amount


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

Kids Definition of decline

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to bend or slope downward The road declines into the valley.
2 : to pass toward a lower, worse, or weaker level Her health declined.
3 : to refuse to accept, do, or agree decline an invitation decline to leave



Kids Definition of decline (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a process of becoming worse or weaker in condition At 80, Grampa is showing no signs of decline.
2 : a change to a lower state or level a business decline
3 : the time when something is nearing its end the empire's decline
de·​cline | \ di-ˈklīn How to pronounce decline (audio) \
declined; declining

Medical Definition of decline

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to tend toward an impaired state or a weaker condition



Medical Definition of decline (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on decline

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decline

Spanish Central: Translation of decline

Nglish: Translation of decline for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of decline for Arabic Speakers

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