de·​com·​press | \ ˌdē-kəm-ˈpres How to pronounce decompress (audio) \
decompressed; decompressing; decompresses

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 \ ˌdē-​kəm-​ˈpre-​shən How to pronounce decompression (audio) \ 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

The Capitol complex in Hartford was eerily quiet last week as lawmakers took some time to decompress after the legislative session ended June 5. Russell Blair,, "Capitol Week in Review: Republicans and Democrats fight over UTC headquarters departure," 14 June 2019 The surgeon explained that once the body has been decompressed, some patients can experience changes in blood pressure or electrolyte or renal issues. Lindsey Bever,, "She kept gaining weight and didn't know why. It turned out to be a 50-pound ovarian cyst.," 2 July 2018 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

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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Statistics for decompress

Last Updated

25 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for decompress

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
US, informal : to rest and relax


transitive verb
de·​com·​press | \ ˌdē-kəm-ˈpres How to pronounce decompress (audio) \

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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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