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 An attorney for Sacoolas, Amy Jeffress, declined comment on the latest development. Meagan Flynn, Anchorage Daily News, "US refuses to return diplomat’s wife to Britain to face charges of killing teen in collision," 24 Jan. 2020 The boys’ father, as well as relatives of Holli Durham, declined comment. Carol Robinson |, al, "Alabama teen slept, went to school after killing mother, twin brothers, authorities say," 23 Jan. 2020 Both the company and the Ministry of Defense have declined to comment on the case. Miriam Berger, Washington Post, "Amnesty International is suing the Israeli firm that experts say might have helped Saudi Arabia hack Bezos’s phone," 22 Jan. 2020 The company declined to comment beyond the statement. Jonathan Roeder, Fortune, "Best Buy Is Investigating CEO Corie Barry’s Personal Conduct," 18 Jan. 2020 The company declined to comment on Pelosi's remarks Thursday and did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Biden. Donie O'sullivan, CNN, "Top Democrats go to war with Facebook and Zuckerberg," 17 Jan. 2020 The company declined to comment beyond the statement. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Best Buy says it’s investigating ‘personal conduct’ of CEO Corie Barry," 17 Jan. 2020 Microsoft declined further comment beyond Spencer's public statement. Patrick Shanley, The Hollywood Reporter, "Missing Sony, E3 Moves Ahead Without One of Its Biggest Backers," 17 Jan. 2020 Miranda could not be reached and his lawyer declined comment. Mallory Moench,, "Benicia solar company executive pleads guilty to defrauding investors of $1 billion," 17 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The largest single-year decline ever reported, when the rate fell 2.2 percent, occurred from 2016 to 2017. Michael Levenson,, "Trump took credit for lower cancer death rates. Advocates say not so fast.," 12 Jan. 2020 One hundred percent, the reason for the decline is related to Mexico’s use of the National Guard to stop people traversing Mexico. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "Mexico is Doing the U.S.'s 'Dirty Work,' Say Researchers as Border Apprehensions Decline For 7th Month In a Row," 12 Jan. 2020 Then, the decline in the Aubrey Valley accelerated. Elizabeth Miller, Scientific American, "Why Are America’s Black-Footed Ferrets Disappearing?," 9 Jan. 2020 In fact, researchers concluded the decline in death rate for four major cancers (lung, breast, prostate and colorectal) shows how far the medical field has progressed in treating the disease. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for January 9: Iran, royals, Ukraine plane, impeachment, cancer," 9 Jan. 2020 Some analysts contend Saudi Aramco shares were hugely over-valued to start with, and believe the steady three-week decline is only the beginning of a protracted slide. Adrian Croft, Fortune, "U.S.-Iran Standoff Pushes Saudi Aramco Shares into Correction Territory—and Analysts Expect it to Drop Further," 8 Jan. 2020 The drop is largely driven by progress against lung cancer, though the most rapid declines in the report occurred in melanoma. Brianna Abbott, WSJ, "U.S. Cancer Death Rate Drops by Largest Amount on Record," 8 Jan. 2020 Overall, the steady 26-year decline in overall cancer mortality is driven by long-term drops in death rates for the four major cancers – lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate, although recent trends are mixed. Helena Oliviero, ajc, "Cancer deaths see biggest one-year drop ever," 8 Jan. 2020 New immunotherapy drugs could accelerate the death rate decline, Patel said. Mike Stobbe, USA TODAY, "Cancer death rate in the US sees largest one-year drop ever, report says," 8 Jan. 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

28 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decline.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 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

Comments on decline

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


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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