decompose

verb
de·​com·​pose | \ˌdē-kəm-ˈpōz \

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 \ -​ˌpō-​zə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
decomposable \ -​ˈpō-​zə-​bəl \ adjective
decomposition \ (ˌ)dē-​ˌkäm-​pə-​ˈzi-​shən \ noun

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

In addition to the rodents in the fridge, pigeons roosted, died and decomposed in the shelter’s attic. Amelia Templeton, The Seattle Times, "Issues plague Portland’s largest shelter for homeless kids," 25 Feb. 2018 He was reported missing by his fiancee, and his body was found decomposing on the water’s edge days later. Jeff Weiner, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Teens who mocked, recorded drowning man in Cocoa won't face charges," 22 June 2018 That being said, the preservation of older home movies — often made of delicate, decomposing celluloid — can be a powerful mode of reclaiming or reinforcing histories. Kt Hawbaker, chicagotribune.com, "Go see some art ‘In Real Life’," 20 June 2018 The presence of trash, decomposing animals and sewage from the city is common at the mouth of the El Inglés River. Mario J. Pentón, miamiherald, "Pollution is destroying the environment and livelihood for residents in this Cuban city," 7 June 2018 Yet old oil yields burnt chicken that smells like catfish, since overused oils decompose into a smelly soup of fatty scraps after hours of hard work in a frothing, superheated crucible. Ali Bouzari, San Francisco Chronicle, "Housemade: The science behind the skillets at Miss Ollie’s in Oakland," 16 May 2018 However, Skromane’s badly decomposed body was found hanging from a tree and her detached head nearby on April 20 in the Thiruvallam area, a popular tourist area. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "Latvian woman’s decomposed body found a month after going missing from yoga retreat," 5 May 2018 Warren Police are investigating the death of a man whose badly decomposed body was found in bed during a welfare check at his home Monday, Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer told the Free Press Tuesday. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Warren woman found living with boyfriend's decomposing body," 24 Apr. 2018 Related stories from Miami Herald Mall worker found a decomposing body in a vacant Subway. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Naked patient pulled out his IVs and ran — then bloodied homeowner with a hammer, Mass. cops say," 15 June 2018

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

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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.

: to cause something (such as a chemical) to be separated into smaller or simpler parts

decompose

verb
de·​com·​pose | \ˌdē-kəm-ˈpōz \
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 \
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 \ noun plural -ties
decomposable \ -​ˈpō-​zə-​bəl \ adjective

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