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

But his fact-and-fantasy images of existential violence and degradation, past and present, are in an old allegorical mode. New York Times, "He Spoke Out During the AIDS Crisis. See Why His Art Still Matters.," 12 July 2018 Overgrazing is a major cause of pastureland degradation, especially by the voracious and sharp-hooved goats whose numbers have exploded to supply the valuable trade in cashmere. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "Mongolia’s nomadic way of life threatened by climate change, neglect, modernity," 8 July 2018 And mining wrought terrible environmental degradation and the pollution of San Francisco Bay that continues to this day. Jonah Raskin,, "‘The Bonanza King,’ by Gregory Crouch: Biography of an inconspicuous millionaire," 25 June 2018 Pastrana’s short life illustrated the racist idea of human degradation. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, "‘The Bear Woman’: The brief, sad life of Julia Pastrana," 3 June 2018 Bluetooth has its own issues, including quality degradation and lag, but those are actively being worked on. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Why USB-C headphones aren’t, and likely never will be, mainstream," 15 June 2018 Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation due to encroaching development are pushing otters and other Florida wildlife into conflict with people. Fox News, "Young otter thrives after being rescued in Florida," 5 May 2018 Across decades and genres, his writing for the magazine dwelled on the degradation of beauty and happiness. Annika Neklason, The Atlantic, "What Donald Hall Understood About Death," 26 June 2018 Sage grouse numbers have dropped from 16 million to around 200,000 million, thanks to habitat degradation, and the environmental loss and noise pollution from human development. Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Made a Taxidermy Bird Robot for Research," 9 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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Statistics for degradation

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for degradation

The first known use of degradation was circa 1535

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More Definitions for degradation



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

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an open space surrounded by woods

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