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

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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 Opponents said the new Line 3 — which partly follows a new route — will open a new region of Minnesota lakes, rivers and wild rice waters to oil-spill degradation, as well as exacerbate climate change. Mike Hughlett, Star Tribune, "PUC won't review higher oil flow in Enbridge lines," 29 Apr. 2021 Been in the lead — far, far in the lead — and experienced first-hand extreme tire degradation and the panic that starts to set in when your 12-second lead drifts back to 10. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Pato O'Ward lands 2nd career IndyCar pole, ready to fight for first win Sunday," 18 Apr. 2021 Data collection efforts are underway to better understand battery degradation, but the average is estimated to be a small percentage (1-3 percent) of capacity each year. Stacy Noblet, Forbes, "Growing EV Adoption: The Solution Already On The Road," 15 Apr. 2021 Now, farmers like Watkins are facing widespread soil degradation that can lower their crop yields and incomes. Becca Dzombak, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Nation’s Corn Belt Has Lost a Third of Its Topsoil," 14 Apr. 2021 The desert-dwelling herbivore, native to Arizona, is primarily threatened by habitat degradation, according to Arizona Game and Fish Department. Erin Stone, The Arizona Republic, "Federal land agency to allow grazing on Sonoran monument, site of tortoise habitat," 7 Oct. 2020 After half a century of further environmental degradation, artists tend to be more circumspect about the future. Nate Sloan, Vulture, "Can Listening to Music Ever Really Be Sustainable?," 20 Apr. 2021 The arrival of a gigantic direwolf is just more evidence of mystical degradation. Darren Franich,, "The Game of Thrones series premiere took its time. The wannabes could learn something.," 17 Apr. 2021 Economics students in Buenos Aires are studying the financial cost of environmental degradation. Ciara Nugent, Time, "The Unexpected Ways Climate Change is Reshaping College Education," 16 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for degradation

Time Traveler

The first known use of degradation was circa 1535

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Statistics for degradation

Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Degradation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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 degradation (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on degradation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for degradation

Nglish: Translation of degradation for Spanish Speakers

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