dec·​re·​ment ˈde-krə-mənt How to pronounce decrement (audio)
: a gradual decrease in quality or quantity
: the quantity lost by diminution or waste
: the amount of decrease (as of a variable)
decremental adjective

Did you know?

Even if you've never seen "decrement" before, you might be familiar with "increment," a word for the action or process of increasing or for something that is gained or added. "Increment" arrived in English, after a rather circuitous route involving Anglo-French, from the Latin verb increscere, meaning "to increase." So it should come as no surprise that decrement derives from the Latin verb decrescere, meaning "to decrease." Both words can be traced further back to the verb "crescere," which means "to grow." Like "increment," "decrement" can also have the (much rarer) mathematical sense of "a change in the value of one or more of a set of variables," but "increment" is used for both positive and negative changes, and "decrement" only for negative ones.

Examples of decrement in a Sentence

each decrement in amount is limited to one third of the previous total
Recent Examples on the Web The increment of fitness gain of the former happens to have been greater than the decrement entailed by the latter, resulting in the simultaneous increase in the frequency of both the fit and unfit variants. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 26 Aug. 2011 Faced with out-of-bounds readings for the radar’s hardware, each CDU began to issue radar increment and decrement interrupts to the guidance computer—lots of interrupts. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, 5 July 2019 Although the marijuana brownies caused significant decrements in participants’ attentiveness, physical coordination and ability to concentrate, only 11 percent of them ever had a THC blood level over the legal limit. Keith Humphreys, The Cannabist, 31 May 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'decrement.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin decrementum, from decrescere

First Known Use

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of decrement was in 1610


Dictionary Entries Near decrement

Cite this Entry

“Decrement.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


dec·​re·​ment ˈdek-rə-mənt How to pronounce decrement (audio)
: a gradual loss or the amount lost
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