de·te·ri·o·rate | \di-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌrāt, 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 \ 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

Doctors can’t always collect these kinds of tissue samples from living patients, particularly if their health is deteriorating rapidly and a biopsy procedure could be detrimental. Talia Richman,, "Johns Hopkins among institutions embracing 'rapid autopsies'," 20 June 2018 But the overwhelming majority recommitted themselves to nonviolence and, as his health rapidly deteriorated, Chavez determined the fast had been successful. USA TODAY, "A movement for 'America's promise'," 21 May 2018 Many Venezuelans living abroad started to feel the pinch on their own finances in 2017, as the Venezuelan economy deteriorated more rapidly and food shortages deepened. Sonia Osorio, miamiherald, "Even in Miami, Venezuelans can't escape the hardships of their homeland | Miami Herald," 11 May 2018 Henry's condition deteriorated so rapidly that by July 2014, his doctors in Shreveport, Louisiana, decided to remove both diseased kidneys. Stephen S. Hall, Science | AAAS, "What's your risk of kidney disease, heart attack, or diabetes? A single molecule can tell," 19 Apr. 2018 There are 32 rapidly deteriorating bridges in the split and roads that accommodate about upwards of 200,000 cars daily. Amy Bartner, Indianapolis Star, "Rebuilding the I-65/I-70 north split is 'bigger than Lucas Oil Stadium'," 9 Mar. 2018 Relationships deteriorate at home, in business and on sports teams rapidly and sometimes the only answer is a new voice, a new location and new surroundings. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "National reaction to Marcus Peters trade is all over the map | The Kansas City Star," 26 Feb. 2018 Relationships deteriorate at home, in business and on sports teams rapidly and sometimes the only answer is a new voice, a new location and new surroundings. Conor Orr,, "Don't Be Quick to Praise the Chiefs for Trading Away Marcus Peters," 23 Feb. 2018 Officials say some 24,000 customers have already lost power and weather conditions are expected to deteriorate further. Fox News, "The Latest: 20,000 lose power in Puerto Rico storm," 10 July 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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Phrases Related to deteriorate

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Statistics for deteriorate

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for deteriorate

The first known use of deteriorate was in 1572

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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 \
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 \
deteriorated; deteriorating

Medical Definition of deteriorate 

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

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