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

Dillon, built in 1935 at the southern end of Colt Park, has been deteriorating for years. Jenna Carlesso, Courant Community, "Demolition To Begin On Derelict Dillon Stadium," 22 June 2018 The only problem is, after a period of time, his mind would begin to deteriorate, rejecting his new reality and driving him insane. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "'Westworld' recap: A return, a reveal and a twist that changes everything in Episode 4," 13 May 2018 One sign that the credit quality of the market has been deteriorating is that, globally, the median bond’s rating has dropped steadily since 1980, from A- to BBB-. The Economist, "Where will the next crisis occur?," 1 May 2018 After a string of record profits, results began to deteriorate in 2008 and continued to slide after Sears spun off the unit in 2014. Suzanne Kapner, WSJ, "Elastic Waistbands Are Back in Fashion at Lands’ End," 12 Apr. 2018 Roll rates, losses for some credit programs are increasing Health of consumer loans is major barometer for economy The quality of Canadian consumer credit is beginning to deteriorate, according to Royal Bank of Canada credit analyst Vivek Selot., "Cracks ‘Starting to Show’ in Canadian Credit Quality, RBC Says," 9 Apr. 2018 Pellegrino, then 57, objected to the invasiveness of the search, but conditions deteriorated and she was later jailed for about 18 hours, the papers show. NBC News, "TSA screeners have immunity from flier abuse claims, appeals court rules," 11 July 2018 The pair stopped working together in 2016, as Novotna’s health deteriorated. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, "The Wisdom of Jana Novotna Lives On in a Young Czech Player," 10 July 2018 The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported last year that while the city’s water-sewer system has been deteriorating, the city has systemically removed millions. Brittany Wallman,, "Fort Lauderdale plans to use water-sewer money to balance budget — again," 9 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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Statistics for deteriorate

Last Updated

7 Nov 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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Comments on deteriorate

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by force of circumstances

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