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

But the relationship between the president and his attorney general deteriorated in the past year. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Jeff Sessions Resigns as Attorney General, Writing It Was at President Trump's Request," 7 Nov. 2018 On the show, Frankel has hinted that her friendship with Radziwill, 54, deteriorated in part due to the fact that Radziwill had grown closer to Tinsley Mortimer, 42. Jamie Spain,, "RHONY's Bethenny Frankel on Tension with Carole Radziwill & Why She 'Cracked' This Season," 15 May 2018 Higher moisture cheeses like ricotta, queso blanco, and mascarpone will deteriorate in quality and spoil faster when left on the counter. Alyse Whitney, Bon Appetit, "How Long Can Cheese Sit Out Before You Die?," 27 Apr. 2018 Both husband and wife have dealt with deteriorating health in recent years. Matthew Watkins, star-telegram, "Ailing former first lady Barbara Bush halts treatment, is seeking 'comfort care' | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 15 Apr. 2018 But simply refusing to suspend misbehaving children would be damaging for their classmates, whose learning would deteriorate in the face of disruption, and for their teachers, whose jobs would be made much more difficult. The Economist, "Tough love falls out of fashion in America’s schools," 14 Apr. 2018 In addition to the deteriorating political situation, health worries weighed on LBJ, Dallek added - something Humphrey said the president brought up in their conversation. The Washington Post,, "LBJ left the 1968 presidential race 50 years ago today," 31 Mar. 2018 Lawyers for the home also appear to be suggesting that the rehab center was not the only facility in Florida in which resident health deteriorated as a consequence of power outages. Nicholas Nehamas, Daniel Chang, Sarah Blaskey And Carol Marbin Miller, miamiherald, "Hollywood nursing home where a dozen elders died ‘made it worse,’ state expert testifies | Miami Herald," 22 Mar. 2018 MacDonald’s brother, Tim, and sister-in-law, Angie, both said his mental condition had been deteriorating in the months before the incident. Kevin Grasha,, "Family: Green Twp. man convicted of attempted murder thought his attorney was a demon," 7 Mar. 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

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \
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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