degeneration

noun
de·​gen·​er·​a·​tion | \ di-ˌje-nə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce degeneration (audio) , 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

The cause was senile degeneration of the brain, said a son, Peter Siebentritt. Benjamin Gordon, Washington Post, "Community deaths," 25 Aug. 2019 Other mechanisms — including brain degeneration caused by the protein tau (another protein long associated with Alzheimer’s), high blood pressure and inflammation — might play a role and need to be investigated. chicagotribune.com, "Depression, Alzheimer’s might be part of same process in some aging brains: Study," 22 Aug. 2019 Some 30,000 Americans suffer from the disease, which is a progressive degeneration of motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing increased muscle weakness and paralysis. Diane Herbst, PEOPLE.com, "'Warrior' with ALS 'Is Not Going to Stop' Coaching Kids — Even Though He Can No Longer Speak," 15 Aug. 2019 Rather than infuse English with a new vitality, this degeneration spreads the blight of sheer ignorance. Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "Semantic Drift," 22 July 2019 This wear and tear is called disc degeneration, the Mayo Clinic explains. Korin Miller, SELF, "You Could Have a Herniated Disc Without Even Realizing It," 11 Sep. 2018 At four months, he was given a diagnosis of Canavan disease, which causes rapid degeneration of the brain and, almost always, death in childhood. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "The Perverse Logic of GoFundMe Health Care," 24 June 2019 Duchenne is a genetic disorder that manifests in muscle degeneration and weakness. Orla Mccaffrey, Dallas News, "Boston research company bets on UT Southwestern researcher's gene therapy," 18 June 2019 So far, studies show NACA can slow retinal degeneration in rodents. Caren Chesler, Popular Mechanics, "A Vision Quest," 6 Mar. 2019

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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Last Updated

5 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for degeneration

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- How to pronounce degeneration (audio) \

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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