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 Even so, the advent of satellite megaconstellations may have made further degradation of astronomers’ view of the night sky inevitable. Emily Zhang, Scientific American, "SpaceX’s Dark Satellites Are Still Too Bright for Astronomers," 10 Sep. 2020 To protect the battery from excessive degradation over time, EVs never fully drain or fully charge the pack. Dave Vanderwerp, Car and Driver, "The Secret Adjustment Factor Tesla Uses to Get Its Big EPA Range Numbers," 30 Aug. 2020 The effort reflects Pope Francis’ push for Christians to stress their common values in working to combat environmental degradation and to help those on life’s margins, such as migrants. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Two Christian bodies urge unity to fight pandemic injustices," 28 Aug. 2020 Even with the pandemic eradicated, the pope said, the world can't function with current levels of social injustice and environmental degradation. Julia Musto, Fox News, "Pope Francis warns against prioritizing COVID-19 vaccines by social class," 19 Aug. 2020 Food production and farming practices are currently driving multiple forms of climate and environmental degradation, greenhouse gas emissions being just one. Charlie Mitchell, The New Republic, "Farms Can’t Save the Planet," 7 Aug. 2020 During last year’s campaign, Granados said incorporation, traffic congestion and environmental degradation were the three biggest issues facing the township. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "Granados seeks Woodlands board seat in third campaign effort," 5 Aug. 2020 Even as Trump has ignored the law and the Constitution, and has abused his power for personal and political gain, Gardner has been complicit in Trump’s degradation of the Oval Office. Morgan Carroll, The Denver Post, "Morgan Carroll: All the lies Trump will tell Coloradans when he comes to town," 19 Feb. 2020 These types of formulas typically contain a stabilized retinol to decrease the degradation by light and ensure efficacy. Danusia Wnek, Good Housekeeping, "What Is Retinol? Facts About Its Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects," 23 Aug. 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.

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

Time Traveler for degradation

Time Traveler

The first known use of degradation was circa 1535

See more words from the same year

Statistics for degradation

Last Updated

22 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Degradation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for degradation


How to pronounce degradation (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on degradation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!