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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from degradation

degradative \ ˈde-​grə-​ˌdā-​tiv How to pronounce degradative (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

The carpet of mining waste also raised fears of widespread environmental contamination and degradation. Peter Prengaman, The Seattle Times, "Searchers probe deep mud from Brazil dam breach; 65 dead," 29 Jan. 2019 This isn’t the first time Maya Bay has struggled with degradation. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Tourists Caused Too Much Damage to the Beach From Leonardo DiCaprio's The Beach," 31 May 2018 As a whole, Ackroyd and Harvey’s body of work focuses on process and time, things like urban political ecologies, anthropogenic climate change, and environmental degradation. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "The Coats Worn at the Extinction Rebellion Protests in London Are Made From Fresh Seedling Grass," 19 Feb. 2019 During his lifetime, spent almost entirely in captivity, Sudan's subspecies went extinct in the wild because of habitat degradation and poaching. Ernie Mastroianni, Discover Magazine, "Discover's Images of the Year 2018," 20 Dec. 2018 Ultimately, Hynde says her music is a means to pursue other passion projects, including a book the onetime vegan restaurant owner is writing about cow protection and non-slaughter farming as a solution for soil degradation. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde talks new projects, her take on #MeToo, before Milwaukee show," 5 July 2018 For the powertrain team, the aims include a 300-mile range, consistent performance, and reducing any degradation of the battery under adverse weather conditions and over time. Bengt Halvorson, Car and Driver, "Ford Electric Vehicle Charging Up on Mustang Mach 1 Heritage, Due in 2020," 16 Jan. 2018 But that’s exactly the problem: The slow degradation of institutions, the normalization of an authoritarian approach to politics, makes any warning about a particular development seem out of proportion to the immediate threat. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "We aren’t alarmed enough about Jeff Sessions’s firing," 8 Nov. 2018 There is absolutely zero tolerance for degradations of safety. Johana Bhuiyan, Recode, "The FAA will have ‘zero tolerance’ for anything less safe than current standards when it comes to regulating flying cars," 9 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of degradation

circa 1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for degradation

see degrade

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about degradation

Statistics for degradation

Last Updated

8 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for degradation

The first known use of degradation was circa 1535

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for degradation



English Language Learners Definition of degradation

somewhat formal
: 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 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 degradative (audio) \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on degradation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with degradation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for degradation

Spanish Central: Translation of degradation

Nglish: Translation of degradation for Spanish Speakers

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).


something valued as if it were money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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