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 The silver oak leaf litter take longer to decompose and are poorer in micronutrients, and there is a reduced resilience to dry periods and intense monsoon rainfalls like this year’s. Nandita Jayaraj, Quartz India, "The coffee plantations of India’s western ghats are being wrongly blamed for climate change," 4 Sep. 2019 The Bosch reactor uses hydrogen to decompose carbon dioxide that people exhale when onboard a spacecraft. The News-review, oregonlive.com, "Southern Oregon technology may help astronauts breathe easier," 24 Aug. 2019 Nespresso capsules in landfills take about 150 years to decompose, so getting customers to recycle them is key to its sustainability agenda. Anne Quito, Quartz, "A new Swedish bicycle is made from 300 recycled Nespresso pods," 13 Aug. 2019 Single-use utensils can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Hannah Whitaker, National Geographic, "Why carrying your own fork and spoon helps solve the plastic crisis," 28 June 2019 What Happens to That DNA?’ The moment an organism dies, its body begins to decompose. Quanta Magazine, "Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems," 29 May 2019 The couple allegedly stayed in the apartment for three days as Sierra’s body decomposed. Harriet Sokmensuer, PEOPLE.com, "Boyfriend of Accused Mom Is Also Arrested in Case of 5-Year-Old Girl Found Decaying in Closet," 9 Sep. 2019 But the harsh reality is human remains decompose quickly at sea so many may remain missing forever. Errol Barnett, CBS News, "Search for victims continues a week after Hurricane Dorian," 9 Sep. 2019 Such dryness and hotness, Hollesen said, create ripe conditions for decomposition because bacteria that decompose organic matter have more air to breathe. Lucas Joel, Smithsonian, "A Warming Climate Threatens Archaeological Sites in Greenland," 31 Aug. 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

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for decompose

The first known use of decompose was in 1718

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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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