Definition of degrade
1a : to lower in grade, rank, or status : demoteb : to strip of rank or honorsc : to lower to an inferior or less effective level degrade the image qualityd : to scale down in desirability or salability
2a : to bring to low esteem or into disrepute his actions have degraded his profession punishments intended to humiliate and degrade prisonersb : to drag down in moral or intellectual character : corrupt the Indians who consume peyote buttons do not seem to be … morally degraded by the habit — Aldous Huxley
3 : to impair in respect to some physical property material degraded by exposure to sunlight
4 geology : to wear down by erosion degraded the hillside
5 chemistry : to reduce the complexity of (a chemical compound) : decompose
1 : to pass from a higher grade or class to a lower causes the meat to degrade in quality
2 of a chemical compound : to become reduced in complexity plastics that don't easily degrade
degradinglyplay \-ˈgrā-diŋ-lē\ adverb
Examples of degrade in a Sentence
The group accuses the company of degrading women in its ads.
He felt degraded by their remarks.
Scratches on a camera lens will degrade the image.
Pollution has degraded air quality.
Recent Examples of degrade from the Web
The song is a more nuanced treatment than any ten essays about date rape of the way women can feel torn between the desire to be driven by their sexuality and the horror that the desire might ultimately degrade or even destroy them.
Name Withheld Circulating hateful stereotypes degrades our common culture.
A leader who doesn't respect the law puts all Americans -- both Republicans and Democrats -- in danger and degrades our core principles and values, those that have made America great already.
The safety agency is also making sure older cars are fixed first, since the chemical Takata used in the air bags, ammonium nitrate, degrades over time, especially in hot, humid climates.
In the process both men and women have been degraded and dehumanized.
Excess nutrients feed toxic algal blooms that severely degrade water quality in lakes and streams, causing serious concern for the health of people and wildlife.
Many astronomers fear the additional mirror will degrade sensitivity, or the ability to see faint objects, because photons are lost with each reflection.
Anyone who’s left a water bottle in the car too long can attest that light and heat degrade the molecular structure of plastic or resin.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'degrade'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
In Shakespeare's King Lear, the old king is degraded by the daughters he has given his kingdom to. He finds it degrading, for instance, when the number of his guards is reduced from 100 to 25. His degradation seems complete when, after going mad, he's reduced to living in the wilderness. As you can see, degrade is often a synonym for humiliate.
DEGRADE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of degrade for English Language Learners
: to treat (someone or something) poorly and without respect
: to make the quality of (something) worse
: to cause (something complex) to break down into simple substances or parts
DEGRADE Defined for Kids
Definition of degrade for Students
1 : to lower in character or dignity Mom feels that dressing animals in costumes degrades them.
2 : to break down or separate into simpler parts or substances Bacteria will degrade the spilled pollutant.
3 : to reduce from a higher to a lower rank or degree He was degraded to a private by his commander.
Word Root of degrade
The Latin word gradus, meaning “step” or “degree,” gives us the root grad. Words from the Latin gradus have something to do with steps. Anything gradual happens slowly one step at a time. To degrade is to reduce from a higher to a lower degree. A grade is a step in school made up of one year of work. Even the word degree itself has gradus as its root.
Medical Definition of degrade
Seen and Heard
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