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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from decompose

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

Synonyms for decompose

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The tiny organisms decompose dead plant parts, turning them into nutrient-rich soil. Natalie Hamilton, Smithsonian Magazine, "When Is Kente Cloth Worn and More Questions From Our Readers," 21 Apr. 2021 Afterwards, the carcass will remain at Angel Island to naturally decompose. Steve Rubenstein, San Francisco Chronicle, "A gray whale carcass washed ashore at S.F.'s Crissy Field," 31 Mar. 2021 Even flushable wipes take a much longer time than toilet paper to decompose. Corey Whelan, Health.com, "How to Use a Bidet Toilet Seat," 20 Apr. 2021 But unlike synthetic fabric such as polyester, which won’t break down for up to 200 years, wool could decompose within a couple of years. Kolbie Peterson, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Photos: SLC artist’s ‘wearable fiber art’ is the opposite of destructive ‘fast fashion’," 7 Apr. 2021 As the sediment solidifies into sedimentary rock, the organisms decompose, leaving their fossilized remains imprinted into the rock. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, "Was Life On Earth Brought Here From An Alien System?," 7 Apr. 2021 Rubber mulches work well too but do not decompose to release nutrients. Tom Maccubbin, orlandosentinel.com, "Bell peppers can grow in the ground or containers," 27 Mar. 2021 Leave the roots in the soil to decompose or take them out and compost them along with the leaves. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Here’s what to plant now in your March garden," 6 Mar. 2021 The eggshell will naturally (albeit slowly) decompose in the soil, giving your plants extra nutrients. Patricia S York, Southern Living, "Start Seeds In Eggshells Now For An Easter Gift That Keeps On Giving," 26 Feb. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about decompose

Time Traveler for decompose

Time Traveler

The first known use of decompose was in 1718

See more words from the same year

Statistics for decompose

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decompose.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decompose. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 decompose (audio) \ noun, plural decomposabilities
decomposable \ -​ˈpō-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce decompose (audio) \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on decompose

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!