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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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 Things like apple cores and banana peels take from a couple months to a couple years to decompose and can attract animals — and more litter — in the meantime. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Leave No Trace is about more than picking up trash. Here's what you should know before getting outside in Wisconsin," 2 July 2020 Last week, a Brooklyn funeral home seized national attention when authorities uncovered dozens of decomposing bodies in unrefrigerated trucks outside Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Long-term disaster morgue opens in NYC to assist overwhelmed funeral homes during pandemic," 5 May 2020 Bodies are seen in one container piled at least three high, decomposing inside different types of body bags. Natalie Gallón, CNN, "Where are the bodies? Missing remains mean no peace for grieving families in Ecuador," 7 May 2020 As the death toll rose, patrolmen stacked decomposing corpses wrapped in white sheets on the sidewalks, waiting for the meat wagons to scoop them up. Randy Roberts And Johnny Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, "When Babe Ruth and the Great Influenza Gripped Boston," 30 Apr. 2020 An embalmed body will last at least two weeks without decomposing; a refrigerated body, a couple months. Victor Llorente, Popular Mechanics, "Inside a New York City Funeral Home’s Mission to Keep Bodies Out of Mass Graves," 24 Apr. 2020 One study found that the leaves decompose 25 percent slower if the tree was attacked by the bugs. Ula Chrobak, Popular Science, "Bugs, hares, and other unexpected animals that control wild fires," 9 Mar. 2020 The film conjectures that mushrooms are a large part of the reason humans and other species exist, because of their ability to decompose and create the conditions necessary for new life. The Editors, Outside Online, "Everything Our Editors Loved in February," 3 Mar. 2020 In landfills, starved of oxygen, decomposing organics release methane, a greenhouse gas whose warming effects, in the long run, are fifty-six times those of CO2. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, "How South Korea Is Composting Its Way to Sustainability," 2 Mar. 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

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decompose.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decompose. Accessed 14 Jul. 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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