deg·​ra·​da·​tion | \ ˌde-grə-ˈdā-shən How to pronounce degradation (audio) \

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

Other Words from degradation

degradative \ ˈde-​grə-​ˌdā-​tiv How to pronounce degradation (audio) \ 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 In 2017, Voyager 1's primary thrusters showed signs of degradation, forcing engineers to switch to another set previously used 37 years earlier during the probe's planetary encounters. Stephanie Mlot, PCMAG, 19 May 2022 Green Newton President Marcia Cooper said the festival served as a way to bring more people into the conversation about how residents can prevent local environmental degradation. Taylor Coester And Alanis Broussard,, 18 May 2022 After that, water that saturated the wood will be replaced with a treatment of polyethylene glycol, to prevent further degradation, according to Skibo. Noah Sheidlower And Justin Lear, CNN, 5 Nov. 2021 Streams that people here rely on to feed their families with salmon show signs of degradation. Anchorage Daily News, 29 Apr. 2022 That’s partly the result of tightening European Union rules on water quality, but also local initiatives to reverse decades of environmental degradation. Washington Post, 29 Dec. 2021 Almost 30% of the country’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, primarily because of overfishing and habitat degradation. Melissa Cristina Márquez, Forbes, 10 Dec. 2021 The concept of a profit and purpose business is now mainstream and funding is pouring into startups that are addressing problems around climate, pollution, environmental degradation, food production and sustainable development. Trevor Clawson, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 The retiring satellite experienced degradation in its Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) — a tool allowing scientists to view the Earth in different kinds of spectral bands. Joe Mario Pedersen,, 1 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of degradation

circa 1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for degradation

see degrade

Learn More About degradation

Time Traveler for degradation

Time Traveler

The first known use of degradation was circa 1535

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near degradation




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for degradation

Last Updated

26 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Degradation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for degradation


deg·​ra·​da·​tion | \ ˌdeg-rə-ˈdā-shən How to pronounce degradation (audio) \

Medical Definition of degradation

: change of a chemical compound to a less complex compound

Other Words from degradation

degradative \ ˈdeg-​rə-​ˌdāt-​iv How to pronounce degradation (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on degradation

Nglish: Translation of degradation for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!