degeneration

noun
de·gen·er·a·tion | \di-ˌje-nə-ˈrā-shən, ˌdē-\

Definition of degeneration 

1 : degenerate (see degenerate entry 1) condition

2 : a lowering of effective power, vitality, or essential quality to an enfeebled and worsened kind or state the country's degeneration into chaos … enacts the degeneration of politics into televisual entertainment …— Linda Holt

3 : intellectual, moral, or artistic decline Many of her stories show the degeneration of a principled person into a lethal one …— Susannah Clapp … argue that the tradition has radically devolved, and that books like "The Kiss," by Kathryn Harrison, represent the degeneration of a once ennobled form.— Deborah E. McDowell

4 biology

a : progressive deterioration of physical characters from a level representing the norm of earlier generations or forms

b : deterioration of a tissue or an organ in which its function is diminished or its structure is impaired a degeneration of cartilage

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Choose the Right Synonym for degeneration

deterioration, degeneration, decadence, decline mean the falling from a higher to a lower level in quality, character, or vitality. deterioration implies generally the impairment of value or usefulness. the deterioration of the house through neglect degeneration stresses physical, intellectual, or especially moral retrogression. the degeneration of their youthful idealism into cynicism decadence presupposes a reaching and passing the peak of development and implies a turn downward with a consequent loss in vitality or energy. cited love of luxury as a sign of cultural decadence decline differs from decadence in suggesting a more markedly downward direction and greater momentum as well as more obvious evidence of deterioration. the meteoric decline of his career after the scandal

Examples of degeneration in a Sentence

the organization's degeneration from a movement for political reform to just another political party the troubling degeneration of his memory since he reached middle age

Recent Examples on the Web

When Ndopu was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), an incurable condition that causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. NBC News, "'Black, queer, disabled and brilliant': Activist hopes to make history in space," 26 June 2018 No single brain sample would display this great a variety of injured Purkinje neurons in the cerebellum (a cat’s), but Cajal showed it this way in his 1914 drawing to convey the sequence of cellular degeneration. Sharon Begley, STAT, "In ‘Beautiful Brain,’ the secrets of neurons emerge in Nobel-winning scientist’s ink and pencil drawings," 3 May 2018 The circulation of the destructive components causes the the degeneration of the brain. Christina Oehler, Woman's Day, "Scientists Reveal A Cure For Alzheimer's Disease May Be Closer Than We Thought," 17 July 2015 Covering this degeneration for the last year and a half has stressed me beyond any expectation. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Is the World Done With Liberal Democracy?," 1 June 2018 About 30% percent of people diagnosed with XP also experience neurological degeneration. Maya Eliahou And Justin Lear, CNN, "Her rare skin condition keeps her indoors, but she braved the sun to walk at graduation," 9 June 2018 Brown has to manage a sickle-cell trait that can cause muscle degeneration for those who perform strenuous exercise. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Ravens' new wide receivers show early signs of promise during workouts," 1 June 2018 Trump is merely the latest evidence of the intellectual degeneration of conservatism. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Why Liberal Media Need Conservative Columnists," 10 May 2018 The cause was senile degeneration of the brain, said a daughter, Katherine Shorey Herold. Washington Post, "Lloyd Hyde real estate developer," 16 Apr. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for degeneration

see degenerate entry 1

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The first known use of degeneration was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for degeneration

degeneration

noun
de·gen·er·a·tion | \di-ˌjen-ə-ˈrā-shən, ˌdē- \

Medical Definition of degeneration 

1 : intellectual or moral decline tending toward dissolution of character or integrity : a progressive worsening of personal adjustment

2a : progressive deterioration of physical characters from a level representing the norm of earlier generations or forms : regression of the morphology of a group or kind of organism toward a simpler less highly organized state parasitism leads to degeneration

b : deterioration of a tissue or an organ in which its vitality is diminished or its structure impaired especially : deterioration in which specialized cells are replaced by less specialized cells (as in fibrosis or in malignancies) or in which cells are functionally impaired (as by deposition of abnormal matter in the tissue)

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