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 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

Researchers attribute the decline to climate change, habitat degradation and insecticides used in commercial farming, according to the findings, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS One. Scottie Andrew And Katherine Dillinger, CNN, "Ohio's butterfly population has fallen by a third, and researchers say the findings spell trouble for bees," 10 July 2019 The right to migrate is overdue reparation for those centuries of degradation and exploitation. Bilal Qureshi, Washington Post, "Immigration as reparation for colonialism, climate change and corporate greed," 21 June 2019 And digital media has its own long-term issues with degradation and compatibility. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Eminem tape reels backed up digitally just months before devastating Universal fire," 11 June 2019 Issues of environmental degradation and climate change are much more important than when the museum first opened. Julia Wick,, "Essential California: A new face for the La Brea Tar Pits on a changing Wilshire Boulevard," 7 June 2019 While many types of balloons will ultimately break down, the degradation process can take months or even years, meaning the risk to animals remains for all that time. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "18,000 pieces of balloon waste were found in Great Lakes: Why it's a danger," 23 May 2019 So the forensic expert proposed a novel theory: that bacterial degradation could have changed the blood type from B to A. Laughman spent 16 years in prison until DNA evidence finally cleared him. Douglas Starr, Science | AAAS, "This psychologist explains why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit," 13 June 2019 But, where Bartleby responds to degradation by withdrawing, reducing, starving himself, Amelia Bedelia produces sugary excess. Sarah Blackwood, The New Yorker, "The Secret Rebellion of Amelia Bedelia, the Bartleby of Domestic Work," 10 June 2019 The authors caution that their results could be influenced by the differential preservation of ancient DNA, since the DNA from all organisms and locations might not be equally well protected against degradation over time. Quanta Magazine, "Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems," 29 May 2019

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

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for degradation

The first known use of degradation was circa 1535

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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

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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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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