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

Essential Meaning of degradation

somewhat formal
1 : the act or process of damaging or ruining something degradation of the environment There has been a slight degradation [=decline] in the car's performance.
2 : the act of treating someone or something poorly and without respect the degradation of women He was forced to live a life of degradation. [=a life in which he suffered and was treated very poorly] He was forced to suffer the degradations [=indignities] of poverty and abuse.

Full 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 Could long-term thinking digital and software-based technologies help resolve these, as well as many of the world’s other ailments – from environmental degradation, to energy waste, to economic dislocation? Joe Mckendrick, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2021 The islands became a US territory in 1975 and, along with the neighboring island of Guam, have turned into a hub for the US military, which has contributed to greenhouse gas emissions, ocean pollution and environmental degradation. Angela Dewan, CNN, 8 Nov. 2021 The conservation group is asking the public for help balancing human uses with environmental degradation that has occurred just downstream of the San Antonio River headwaters. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, 4 Nov. 2021 Not only are the glass bottles themselves sturdy and the squeeze triggers are ultra-reliable and jam-proof, but the amber glass makes these bottles are fully UV-protected, which protects it from degradation from ultraviolet light. Tim Kohut, BGR, 19 May 2021 Like many audio, video, and data cables, HDMI cords can suffer from signal degradation at longer lengths—50 feet is generally considered the maximum reliable length. John Herrman, Popular Mechanics, 1 Apr. 2021 Everybody will be free from worry and liberated from the degradation of labor. Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2021 The former comes from the degradation of dead bacteria, and may offer surviving bacteria UV protection. Matt Simon, Wired, 25 Jan. 2021 The exRNA that is thereby saved from degradation could provide information on cell signalling or cell death in diseases such as cancer. Roxanne Khamsi, Scientific American, 17 June 2020

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

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The first known use of degradation was circa 1535

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Last Updated

4 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Degradation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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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


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