de·gen·er·a·tive | \ di-ˈje-nə-rə-tiv , -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

His parents blame the changes in his brain on chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a traumatic and degenerative brain disease detected in many older athletes. Deborah Horne, ajc, "Washington State football player had brain damage at suicide," 28 June 2018 Multiple strokes have left him with vascular dementia, a severe and degenerative neurological disease that has stripped Madison of his mental functions. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Cruelty of Executing the Sick and Elderly," 27 Feb. 2018 Outside of your genetic makeup, few things are definitively linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain conditions. Alice Park, Time, "This Surprising Factor May Raise Your Risk of Alzheimer’s," 11 July 2018 Other scientists confirmed that dopamine is depleted in people with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative condition that causes tremors and rigidity, and L-dopa soon became the standard treatment for the illness. Denise Gellene,, "Arvid Carlsson, 95; discovered a treatment for Parkinson’s," 2 July 2018 Other scientists confirmed that dopamine is depleted in people with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative condition that causes tremors and rigidity, and L-dopa soon became the standard treatment for the illness. Denise Gellene, New York Times, "Arvid Carlsson, Who Discovered a Treatment for Parkinson’s, Dies at 95," 1 July 2018 And the team was rocked by a pair of retirements; center Eric Wood had to call it quits because of a degenerative neck condition, and left guard Richie Incognito abruptly retired citing health issues. Sal Maiorana, USA TODAY, "Bills training camp questions: Will Josh Allen seize starting QB job?," 19 June 2018 The 23-month-old boy, who had a degenerative brain condition, had been at the center of a high profile legal battle over whether life support should be continued. Laura Smith-spark, CNN, "British toddler Alfie Evans dies after life support is withdrawn," 28 Apr. 2018 Alfie, just short of 2 years old, had an incurable degenerative brain condition and was at the center of a legal battle over his treatment. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Alfie Evans, UK toddler at center of legal battle, dies," 28 Apr. 2018

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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Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for degenerative

The first known use of degenerative was circa 1846

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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 , -ˈjen-(ə-)rət- \

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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