de·​gen·​er·​a·​tive | \ di-ˈje-nə-rə-tiv How to pronounce degenerative (audio) , -ˈjen-rə-; -ˈje-nə-ˌrā-; dē- \

Definition of degenerative

: of, relating to, involving, or causing degeneration a degenerative disease

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Did You Know?

Degenerative diseases—including cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson's, diabetes, arthritis, and leprosy—are usually contrasted with infectious diseases (diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa). However, many infectious diseases (Lyme disease, AIDS, etc.) can cause a body or body part to degenerate, and infective organisms play a part in some degenerative diseases. Some degenerative diseases can be controlled; some can even be cured. But no one has yet discovered a way to reverse such degenerative conditions as multiple sclerosis, emphysema, or Alzheimer's.

Examples of degenerative in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Took her own life after living with pain from a degenerative spinal disease. Bernard Mcghee, Twin Cities, "Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy The docuseries also elaborated on Hernandez's CTE — the degenerative brain disease that can lead to memory loss, depression and dementia. NBC News, "Aaron Hernandez Netflix documentary looks at how he became a killer," 15 Jan. 2020 Suddenly incapacitated by the deadly degenerative neurological disease, Mark filed for a disability retirement with the pension fund on Sep. 12, 2018. Sean P. Murphy,, "A paperwork glitch cuts a widow’s pension payment nearly in half," 12 Jan. 2020 Took her own life after living with pain from a degenerative spinal disease. Bernard Mcghee, Twin Cities, "Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 After his death, doctors found the 27-year-old Hernandez had advanced chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to concussions and other head trauma commonplace in the NFL. USA TODAY, "Netflix to release three part documentary: 'Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez'," 21 Dec. 2019 Took her own life after living with pain from a degenerative spinal disease. Bernard Mcghee, The Denver Post, "Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019," 16 Dec. 2019 Both specimens had spinal fractures, and one had a degenerative joint disease. National Geographic, "Ancient Egyptian 'head cone mystery' solved by archaeologists," 11 Dec. 2019 One of the most common is a condition called myxomatous degenerative mitral valve disease. Mayo Clinic News Network,, "Mitral valve repair with minimally invasive heart surgery," 6 Dec. 2019

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

circa 1846, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for degenerative

Time Traveler

The first known use of degenerative was circa 1846

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Statistics for degenerative

Last Updated

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Degenerative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for degenerative


How to pronounce degenerative (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of degenerative

medical : causing the body or part of the body to become weaker or less able to function as time passes


de·​gen·​er·​a·​tive | \ di-ˈjen-ə-ˌrāt-iv How to pronounce degenerative (audio) , -ˈjen-(ə-)rət- How to pronounce degenerative (audio) \

Medical Definition of degenerative

: of, relating to, involving, or tending to cause degeneration degenerative conditions of the nervous system— Morris Fishbein degenerative changes a degenerative muscle disorder

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More from Merriam-Webster on degenerative

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with degenerative

Spanish Central: Translation of degenerative

Nglish: Translation of degenerative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of degenerative for Arabic Speakers

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