decompose

verb
de·​com·​pose | \ ˌdē-kəm-ˈpōz How to pronounce decompose (audio) \
decomposed; decomposing; decomposes

Definition of decompose

transitive verb

1 : to separate into constituent parts or elements or into simpler compounds decompose water by electrolysis decompose a word into its base and affixes
2 : rot

intransitive verb

: to break up into constituent parts by or as if by a chemical process : decay, rot fruit decomposes

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Other Words from decompose

decomposability \ ˌdē-​kəm-​ˌpō-​zə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce decomposability (audio) \ noun
decomposable \ ˌdē-​kəm-​ˈpō-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce decomposable (audio) \ adjective
decomposition \ (ˌ)dē-​ˌkäm-​pə-​ˈzi-​shən How to pronounce decomposition (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for decompose

Synonyms

break down, corrupt, decay, disintegrate, fester, foul, mold, molder, perish [chiefly British], putrefy, rot, spoil

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Choose the Right Synonym for decompose

decay, decompose, rot, putrefy, spoil mean to undergo destructive dissolution. decay implies a slow change from a state of soundness or perfection. a decaying mansion decompose stresses a breaking down by chemical change and when applied to organic matter a corruption. the strong odor of decomposing vegetation rot is a close synonym of decompose and often connotes foulness. fruit was left to rot in warehouses putrefy implies the rotting of animal matter and offensiveness to sight and smell. corpses putrefying on the battlefield spoil applies chiefly to the decomposition of foods. keep the ham from spoiling

Examples of decompose in a Sentence

Bacteria and fungi help decompose organic matter. the smell of decomposing leaves The compound will decompose in the presence of light.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The body was badly decomposed, mostly skeletal, and there was no evidence of how the person may have died. Tammy Ayer, The Seattle Times, "‘We have so many missing people’: Coroner tests remains found on Yakima River island as families wait, hope," 7 Aug. 2019 Anvil 10+10 is made from sumithrin, a chemical that is used to kill mosquitoes and rapidly decomposes and deactivates when exposed to light and air, officials said. Maria Lovato, BostonGlobe.com, "22 communities at high risk from mosquito-borne virus; Mass. to spray insecticide," 6 Aug. 2019 Bailey said the body was decomposed enough that investigators would need an autopsy to determine the person’s gender. oregonlive.com, "Medical examiners ID body found in Deschutes National Forest," 2 Aug. 2019 Wired’s Matt Simon further explains that peat, made up of decomposing organic matter such as moss, hardens into coal when enough pressure is applied. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "The Arctic Is Experiencing Its Worst Wildfire Season on Record," 30 July 2019 Rene Taboas says that at the homes of trappers in Florida, dead birds often are found in backyards decomposing near the cages of live birds. Karine Aigner, National Geographic, "Songbirds are being snatched from Miami’s forests," 25 July 2019 After two days, the stench of their decomposing corpses became unbearable, Warnock recalled. Lauren Cook, CNN, "Their ancestors were slain a century ago along the US-Mexico border. They say now is the time to retell the horror," 20 July 2019 To ensure that the bodies did not decompose, the rescue team would often have to cover them in snow. Niha Masih, Washington Post, "Eight climbers died in the Himalayas. This GoPro footage shows the last video of them still alive.," 9 July 2019 Adding certain types of biomass to the soil and covering it in plastic can kill the spores, as the material decomposes and releases gas toxic to bacteria and fungi. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Devastating banana disease may have reached Latin America, could drive up global prices," 17 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decompose.' 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 decompose

1718, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for decompose

French décomposer, from dé- de + composer to compose

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Statistics for decompose

Last Updated

17 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for decompose

The first known use of decompose was in 1718

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More Definitions for decompose

decompose

verb

English Language Learners Definition of decompose

: to cause something (such as dead plants and the bodies of dead animals) to be slowly destroyed and broken down by natural processes, chemicals, etc.
technical : to cause something (such as a chemical) to be separated into smaller or simpler parts

decompose

verb
de·​com·​pose | \ ˌdē-kəm-ˈpōz How to pronounce decompose (audio) \
decomposed; decomposing

Kids Definition of decompose

1 : to break down or be broken down into simpler parts or substances especially by the action of living things (as bacteria and fungi) Leaves decomposed on the forest floor.
2 : to separate a substance into simpler compounds Water can be decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen.

decompose

verb
de·​com·​pose | \ ˌdē-kəm-ˈpōz How to pronounce decompose (audio) \
decomposed; decomposing

Medical Definition of decompose

transitive verb

: to separate into constituent parts or elements or into simpler compounds decompose water by electrolysis

intransitive verb

: to undergo chemical breakdown : decay, rot fruit decomposes

Other Words from decompose

decomposability \ -​ˌpō-​zə-​ˈbil-​ət-​ē How to pronounce decomposability (audio) \ noun, plural decomposabilities
decomposable \ -​ˈpō-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce decomposable (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on decompose

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