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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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 Although Alzheimer’s is a long-lasting, degenerative disease with no cure, knowing more about the various stages can help caregivers through its progression. San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 June 2022 Retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease, took his eyesight decades ago. Matthew Vantryon, The Indianapolis Star, 30 May 2022 The piece was inspired by Wyeth’s neighbor, a woman who had developed a degenerative muscle disease as a child and refused to use a wheelchair, opting to crawl instead. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 May 2022 Certain forms of dementia, ALS, Parkinson’s, and the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, fall under the same umbrella, along with other diseases, all caused by some quirk in a protein. Isabella Cueto, STAT, 2 May 2022 The committee found no evidence meeting the requirements of degenerative, progressive and incurable illness, according to an explanation from the committee that was provided to The Washington Post by her lawyer. Washington Post, 9 Jan. 2022 After discussing the case at length, the committee found no evidence meeting the requirements of degenerative, progressive, and incurable illness, according to an explanation from the committee, provided to The Washington Post by Jaramillo., 11 Oct. 2021 The degenerative illness is the state's sixth-leading cause of death, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kat Stromquist, Arkansas Online, 6 June 2021 The Maywood resident — a single mother who emigrated from Mexico in 2003 and makes her living cleaning homes — said that even worse than her own degenerative illness is her fear that Arleth someday could be hospitalized. Selene Rivera, Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of degenerative

circa 1846, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for degenerative

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The first known use of degenerative was circa 1846

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Dictionary Entries Near degenerative

degeneration disease



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Last Updated

26 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Degenerative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for degenerative


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

More from Merriam-Webster on degenerative

Nglish: Translation of degenerative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of degenerative for Arabic Speakers


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