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

break down, corrupt, decay, disintegrate, fester, foul, mold, molder, perish [chiefly British], putrefy, rot, spoil

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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

The grubs feed on decomposing wood or organic matter. Ellen Nibali, baltimoresun.com, "Garden Q&A: Don’t worry about this giant beetle and coping with blossom end rot in tomatoes," 1 Aug. 2019 Wright’s decomposed body was found on Wednesday, July 28 in a remote area near the TPC Southwind golf course. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Revisiting Details of the Lorenzen Wright Case and Questions That Remain," 29 July 2019 The decomposing body of Nancy Harrison, 52, was discovered March 19 inside a vacant dwelling. Christine Pelisek, PEOPLE.com, "Mich. Police Believe Serial Killer Murdered 3 Women — and Person of Interest Is Arrested," 10 June 2019 Cantrell Funeral Home was shut down and had its mortuary license suspended in April after decomposing embalmed bodies were found and other violations were discovered. Corey Williams, The Seattle Times, "Police to file criminal complaint after fetus remains found," 16 Oct. 2018 But inside the reactor, carbon dioxide is being decomposed to produce oxygen at temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius. The News-review, oregonlive.com, "Southern Oregon technology may help astronauts breathe easier," 24 Aug. 2019 More widespread as an energy source in Europe than in the United States, anaerobic digestion converts methane gas, which is released as organic matter decomposes, into natural gas. Los Angeles Times, "Turning rotten food and poop into energy: Investors smell an opportunity," 14 Aug. 2019 According to Italian news outlet Ansa, archaeologists discovered the various artifacts inside a wooden box that had decomposed, leaving just the bronze hinges behind, preserved in the volcanic plume. Fox News, "Pompeii 'sorcerer’s treasure trove' discovered, with bones, skull charms and gems for rituals," 14 Aug. 2019 The nutrients feed algae, which die and then decompose on the sea floor, using up oxygen. Washington Post, "Did Hurricane Barry prevent a near-record ‘dead zone’?," 1 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

14 Sep 2019

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.
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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