deg·​ra·​da·​tion | \ˌde-grə-ˈdā-shən \

Definition of degradation 

1 : the act or process of degrading environmental degradation the gradual degradation of organic matter … nothing infuriates the female students more than the degradation of women that is associated with male sports …— Scott Stossel suffer the degradations of poverty and abuse

2a : decline to a low, destitute, or demoralized state shocked by the hopeless degradation of the "poor whites"— Edith Wharton Some houses are found spotless, others in a wretched degradation— Paul Reyes

b : moral or intellectual decadence : degeneration educated him in the bestiality and degradation that war brings— Drew Middleton

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Other Words from degradation

degradative \ ˈde-​grə-​ˌdā-​tiv \ adjective

Examples of degradation in a Sentence

English teachers bemoaning the degradation of the language that e-mail and instant messaging have allegedly brought about. the belief that moral degradation is an unmistakable sign of a nation in decline

Recent Examples on the Web

Also, the water battery can withstand at least 150 cycles without any degradation. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Wanna Pull Water Out of Air? Grab Some Ions or a Weird Sponge," 8 June 2018 But motherhood has been, among other wonderful things, a series of even greater physical degradations. Stella Bugbee, The Cut, "Motherhood and the Great River of Vomit," 1 May 2018 Medicines, especially some of the molecules, are subject to degradation and may have left the manufacturing site meeting the standards. Michael Eisenstein, Scientific American, "Is Your Medicine What You Think It Is?," 22 Mar. 2018 The result of any impact or degradation of the car near Mars could start creating debris at the red planet, meaning that the pollution of another planet has already begun. Ian Whittaker, Smithsonian, "Is SpaceX Being Environmentally Responsible?," 7 Feb. 2018 This moment in history has accompanied a vast proliferation of misinformation amid the degradation of public discourse. Alexander Heffner, Time, "The American Historical Record Includes Court Cases, Famous Speeches—And Trump’s Tweets. Here’s Why That Matters," 2 July 2018 In India, extreme weather events can quickly lead to dozens of deaths and cause economic hardship, with the World Bank estimating that environmental degradation costs India roughly $80 billion each year. Iain Marlow,, "Dust Storms Worsen India's Air as Part of Deadly ‘New Normal’," 18 June 2018 To call attention to this degradation of our culture is not to support political correctness, but to support our ability to learn from one another. Michael S. Roth, Washington Post, "Our graduates should answer cynicism and insults with inquiry and reflection," 29 May 2018 But destruction and degradation of rainforests drive extinction and threaten the plants and animals that live there. Alejandro Arteaga, National Geographic, "These 5 New Snake Species Suck Snails Out of Their Shells," 14 June 2018

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

circa 1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for degradation

see degrade

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Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for degradation

The first known use of degradation was circa 1535

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English Language Learners Definition of degradation

: the act or process of damaging or ruining something

: the act of treating someone or something poorly and without respect


deg·​ra·​da·​tion | \ˌdeg-rə-ˈdā-shən \

Medical Definition of degradation 

: change of a chemical compound to a less complex compound

Other Words from degradation

degradative \ ˈdeg-​rə-​ˌdāt-​iv \ adjective

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Comments on degradation

What made you want to look up degradation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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