de·​te·​ri·​o·​rate | \ di-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce deteriorate (audio) , dē-\
deteriorated; deteriorating

Definition of deteriorate

transitive verb

1 : to make inferior in quality or value : impair Exposure to sunlight may deteriorate the paint.

intransitive verb

: to become impaired in quality, functioning, or condition : degenerate allowed a tradition of academic excellence to deteriorate his health deteriorated

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Other Words from deteriorate

deteriorative \ -​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce deteriorative (audio) \ adjective

Examples of deteriorate in a Sentence

efforts to save a deteriorating rain forest Exposure to rain and sun will gradually deteriorate the paint.

Recent Examples on the Web

In Asia, bonds rated BBB—the category just above junk—make up 44% of the ICE BofAML index, and their quality has been deteriorating. Saumya Vaishampayan, WSJ, "Even Safer Bonds Aren’t Spared in Rough Year for Asia Debt," 7 Dec. 2018 The relationship between 7-Eleven and its store owners has been deteriorating for years. Rachel Abrams, The Seattle Times, "Tensions build between 7-Eleven and its store owners," 30 July 2018 Manuel Sarrazin, a lawmaker with the German Green party who is in regular contact with the crew and its supporters, said the situation on board the Lifeline had been deteriorating. Fox News, "Aid ship docks in Malta with 234 refugees, ending extended journey," 27 June 2018 Behind the scenes, things had been deteriorating for months. Washington Post, "Kushner plans to build twin-towers in New Jersey unraveling," 24 Apr. 2018 The political situation in Nicaragua had been deteriorating since the re-election of Mr. Ortega in 2016 to a third consecutive term amid charges of electoral fraud. Kirk Semple, New York Times, "Nicaragua Roiled by Protests Over Social Security Benefits," 20 Apr. 2018 Do, the South Korean official, was optimistic about the talks, pointing to a consensus among major powers that the situation on the Peninsula had been deteriorating dangerously. Paula Hancocks, CNN, "Kim Jong Un 'sincere and genuine' about talks, South Korean minister says," 12 Apr. 2018 Wells in the field have been deteriorating, increasing the risk of leaks and leading Centrica to plan its closure. Anna Shiryaevskaya,, "Cold Snap Triggering Gas Crisis in U.K. Shows Rising Supply Risk," 1 Mar. 2018 At a time when deteriorating public security is of growing concern to many voters, Alckmin can run on the city of Sao Paulo's remarkable reduction in its murder rate. Sarah Dilorenzo, Fox News, "A look at top candidates in Brazil's presidential race," 7 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deteriorate.' 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 deteriorate

1572, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for deteriorate

Late Latin deterioratus, past participle of deteriorare, from Latin deterior worse, from de- + -ter (suffix as in Latin uter which of two) + -ior (comparative suffix) — more at whether entry 2, -er

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Statistics for deteriorate

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for deteriorate

The first known use of deteriorate was in 1572

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More Definitions for deteriorate



English Language Learners Definition of deteriorate

: to become worse as time passes
: to make (something) worse


de·​te·​ri·​o·​rate | \ di-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce deteriorate (audio) \
deteriorated; deteriorating

Kids Definition of deteriorate

: to make or become worse or of less value Their relationship deteriorated.


intransitive verb
de·​te·​ri·​o·​rate | \ di-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce deteriorate (audio) \
deteriorated; deteriorating

Medical Definition of deteriorate

: to become impaired in quality, functioning, or condition : degenerate her health deteriorated deteriorating vision

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Comments on deteriorate

What made you want to look up deteriorate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a shady place in a garden or forest

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