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

By February 1903, Boise’s wood-block paving was deteriorating badly, and critics were appearing at council meetings to complain about its condition. Arthur Hart, idahostatesman, "A street paved with wood? Yes, Boise once had that.," 30 June 2018 The Coliseum deteriorated, finally closed and was later demolished. Jenna Carlesso,, "CRDA Receives One Bid For Purchase Of Hartford's Aging XL Center," 29 June 2018 Police officers and teachers often go unpaid, and Nairobi’s roads continue to deteriorate. Max Bearak, Washington Post, "Kenyans have had it with corruption. Their leaders may finally be doing something about it.," 13 July 2018 Seven of those schools have to be redone, either because of poor work or because the district, before launching Hite’s plan, failed to fully identify all areas with deteriorating lead paint. Dylan Purcell,, "Can Philadelphia school officials be trusted with millions in state money to clean up lead paint?," 12 July 2018 Afghan officials remain deeply skeptical of any touted successes, given that the security situation in their country continues to deteriorate, with intelligence routinely pointing to Pakistan as the place of planning. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Trump's wrath forces Pakistan to double down on push to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries," 10 July 2018 Structure and windows would continue to deteriorate. Don Behm, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Public hearing draws support for preserving the Mitchell Park Domes in MIlwaukee," 26 June 2018 Image The Mets managed to surrender seven home runs to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday and, of course, lost the game, their sixth straight defeat in a season that continues to deteriorate. David Waldstein, New York Times, "Mets Start a Reliever and Dodgers Have a Blast, Hitting Seven Homers," 24 June 2018 Amazon could choose to relocate more employees there if its relationship with Seattle continues to deteriorate. Jason Del Rey, Recode, "The new “head tax” is aimed at addressing the city’s homelessness crisis.," 15 May 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

deteriorated into

Statistics for deteriorate

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

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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 \
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

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


a magnificent or impressive array

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