de·​com·​press | \ˌdē-kəm-ˈpres \

Definition of decompress 

transitive verb

1 : to release from pressure or compression

2 : to convert (something, such as a compressed file or signal) to an expanded or original size

intransitive verb

: to undergo release from pressure especially : relax need a week off to decompress

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Other Words from decompress

decompression \-​ˈpre-​shən \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for decompress


chill, chill out [slang], de-stress, loosen up, mellow (out), relax, unwind, wind down


tense (up)

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Examples of decompress in a Sentence

Once pressure was released, the vertebrae decompressed. The file must be decompressed before it can be read.

Recent Examples on the Web

Unexpected stressors like sonar are thought to be the main culprit, shocking the animals into speeding toward the surface, causing them to decompress their lungs too quickly. Matthew Berger, Smithsonian, "Dolphins Have a Mysterious Network of Veins That Could Be Key to Preventing the Bends," 26 May 2018 The anonymity offers him the opportunity to decompress, by catching up with friends on the phone or watching a Netflix program. Dylan Hernandez,, "Pushed to the Inland Empire by the high cost of living, LAFC's Benny Feilhaber learned to enjoy his hours-long commute by train," 8 June 2018 The explosion shattered a window on the aircraft, which rapidly and violently decompressed the air within the cabin. Mckenna Moore, Fortune, "8 Southwest Airlines Passengers Are Suing After Fatal Flight," 21 June 2018 That feels like forever ago, and the Capitals are only now decompressing — without a whole lot of sleep. Stephen Whyno, The Seattle Times, "Stanley Cup party rolls on for first-time champion Capitals," 9 June 2018 Since the Indianapolis Colts fired him, Pagano has been able to decompress and be with family. Jordan Guskey, Indianapolis Star, "Chuck Pagano ‘absolutely’ wants to coach again," 6 June 2018 Saturation divers have to decompress for days at minimum. Michelle Weber, Longreads, "Life Under (Water) Pressure," 6 June 2018 Afterward, the participant decompresses and experiences the full impact of the piece, hangups and all. Kt Hawbaker,, "Talkin’ bodies at Chicago Artists Coalition; Mev Luna is available to take your call at 062 Gallery," 25 Apr. 2018 The two meet at a quiet, very high-end hotel on France’s Norman coast, where each is decompressing before a mission. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Submergence,’ a Love Story Sunk by Geopolitics," 12 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decompress.' 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 decompress

1905, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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The first known use of decompress was in 1905

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More Definitions for decompress



English Language Learners Definition of decompress

: to release or reduce the physical pressure on something or to have the physical pressure released or reduced

computers : to change (a computer file that has been made smaller) back to its original size by using special software

: to rest and relax


transitive verb
de·​com·​press | \ˌdē-kəm-ˈpres \

Medical Definition of decompress 

: to release from pressure or compression

More from Merriam-Webster on decompress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decompress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decompress

Comments on decompress

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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