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

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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 As a result, more and more states are making laws to allow burial of human remains in a natural form intended to decompose. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "This 'Living' Mushroom Coffin Will Help Your Body Decompose Faster," 21 Sep. 2020 The pair found that some bodies were allowed to decompose in the open air before their bones were modified, while others were cremated or buried and later exhumed. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Bronze Age Britons Crafted Instruments, Decorations Out of Relatives’ Bones," 1 Sep. 2020 An unknown amount of chlorine began to decompose sometime during the storm, generating heat and igniting, Louisiana State Police Superintendent Kevin W. Reeves told reporters, adding that the cause was under investigation. Washington Post, "Wind, rain and a chemical fire. Hurricane Laura was gone but the crisis wasn’t over.," 28 Aug. 2020 Comparatively, the cremated young adult was burned before their body had begun to desiccate and decompose. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Humans in the Near East Cremated Their Dead 9,000 Years Ago," 17 Aug. 2020 What’s left of the compound can then decompose, producing hydrogen cyanide. Ella Lee, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Apple seeds do contain cyanide, but not enough to kill," 20 May 2015 While drinking wine one evening, Tulane University students Max Steitz and Franziska Trautmann began discussing how the bottle would never decompose and would likely end up in a landfill due to meager recycling programs in New Orleans. NOLA.com, "Meet Gambit's 40 Under 40 class of 2020," 17 Aug. 2020 Within the exclusion zone, scientists are analyzing everything, including the health of the wolves and moose that have wandered back and the effects of radiation on barn swallows, voles, and the microorganisms that decompose forest litter. Jane Braxton Little, The Atlantic, "Forest Fires Are Setting Chernobyl’s Radiation Free," 10 Aug. 2020 Another 50 percent is best left on fields to decompose and rebuild the soil. Eric Toensmeier, Scientific American, "How Climate Change Strategies That Use Biomass Can Be More Realistic," 1 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for decompose

Time Traveler

The first known use of decompose was in 1718

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Statistics for decompose

Last Updated

27 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decompose.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decompose. Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for decompose

decompose

verb
How to pronounce decompose (audio)

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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