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

Other Words from decline


declinable \ di-​ˈklī-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce decline (audio) \ adjective
decliner \ di-​ˈklī-​nər How to pronounce decline (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Most Bay Area cities have seen their youth populations decline over the past decade, likely a consequence of the region’s increasingly staggering cost of living. Susie Neilson, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 July 2022 In an alternative scenario, the IMF said, inflation could rise further and global growth could decline to 2.6% in 2022 and 2% in 2023, putting growth in the bottom 10% of outcomes since the 1970s. Alena Botros, Fortune, 26 July 2022 As a result, adjusted earnings per share for the second quarter and full year are expected to decline around 8% to 9% and 11% to 13%, respectively. CBS News, 25 July 2022 As a result, adjusted earnings per share for the second quarter and full year are expected to decline around 8% to 9% and 11% to 13%, respectively. Joe Taschler, Journal Sentinel, 25 July 2022 Jackson did decline to name his friend, who also contributed to the donation. Kevin L. Clark, Essence, 22 July 2022 Sight may decline, providing less accurate information about the environment. Bryant Stamford, The Courier-Journal, 21 July 2022 As sockeye abound, Chinook and chum runs decline While sockeye have returned in droves, Chinook and chum salmon runs have dropped. Isabelle Ross, Anchorage Daily News, 21 July 2022 The company expects its operating expenses to decline (y-o-y) in 2022, aiding its operating margin growth. Trefis Team, Forbes, 19 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Combined with a steady decline in earnings from its core businesses of Facebook and Instagram, quarterly profitability fell to just 29% from 43% in the year-earlier period. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 1 Aug. 2022 While the female contingent is a slight decline from last year (27 percent were women), the POC percentage is way up (from one-fifth of the nominees last year). Jon Burlingame, Variety, 30 July 2022 That was still down from an average of more than 1,300 a day the previous week, however, and a decline from the recent high of 1,506 a day the week ending July 12. Andy Davis, Arkansas Online, 29 July 2022 Like previous quarters, iPhone sales represented the bulk of Apple’s revenue, bringing in $40.7 billion for the quarter, albeit representing a decline from the $50.6 billion in sales seen in the previous quarter ending in March. J. Clara Chan, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 July 2022 According to the county’s latest data, the average number of new cases over the past 7 days was roughly 5,900, a decline of about 13% from last week’s figures. Christine Mai-duc And Jon Kamp, WSJ, 28 July 2022 The second-quarter reading of the change in gross domestic product showed a decline of 0.9% from the previous quarter, when the economy shrank by 1.6%. Alicia Wallace, CNN, 28 July 2022 On Wednesday, Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, reported a 1 percent decline in quarterly revenue from the previous year. New York Times, 27 July 2022 Across California, about 37% of Black families own their homes — a decline from 42% in 1960, according to the Public Policy Institute of California and the California Housing Finance Agency. Lauren Hepler, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Decline.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for decline


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


intransitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on decline

Nglish: Translation of decline for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of decline for Arabic Speakers


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