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 \ di-​ˈtir-​ē-​ə-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce deteriorative (audio) , dē-​ \ 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

Silicone lubes can cause silicone toys to deteriorate. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "A Guide to Pegging Your Partner With a Strap On," 8 May 2019 At the time of Ronnie’s death, the New York Times reported his band Heaven and Hell had canceled its summer tour because of his deteriorating health. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Ronnie James Dio's widow says it was 'very difficult' sending his possessions to auction: 'Some of the shirts still smell of him'," 19 Sep. 2018 His departure follows that of Mr. Marchionne, who was replaced as CEO over the weekend because of deteriorating health. Chester Dawson, WSJ, "Top Fiat Chrysler Executive Alfredo Altavilla to Leave in Wake of CEO Change," 23 July 2018 The houses have been vacant for many years and are deteriorating. Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY, "These are the USA's 11 most endangered historic places," 26 June 2018 Billionaire David Koch is stepping down from running his conservative political empire because of deteriorating health. David Rovella,, "Your Evening Briefing," 5 June 2018 Due to his deteriorating health, Ploetz stopped teaching in 2009. Michael Mccann,, "Analyzing Ploetz v. NCAA, the First Legal Battle Over CTE to Reach Trial," 26 Apr. 2018 Ahlquist said his decision to leave Gardner was not the result of deteriorating relationships with other leaders at Gardner, a Salt Lake City development company founded by Kem C. Gardner, its CEO. Sven Berg, idahostatesman, "Developer Tommy Ahlquist jumping to a new company," 22 June 2018 The company expects its profit to continue deteriorating this year. Michael Rapoport, WSJ, "Key Brands Pay Price of Kraft Heinz Cost-Cutting," 22 Feb. 2019

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

23 May 2019

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 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).


one that collects or salvages junk

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