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

Endless pursuit of tax cuts to appeal to donors and party elites, while leaving our school and universities underfunded and the problem of deteriorating road and bridges unaddressed, leaves Missouri families frustrated. kansascity, "Jean Paul Bradshaw," 30 June 2018 All this boiled over in mass protests earlier this year as citizens chanted for the release of political prisoners and voiced concerns over deteriorating ethnic relations. Yohannes Y. Gedamu, Washington Post, "Did someone try to assassinate Ethiopia’s new prime minister? Here’s what you need to know.," 26 June 2018 But the West has been losing leverage with Russia amid deteriorating relations, Europe has been unable to agree on an Iran policy, and the Trump administration has flummoxed Israel with mixed messages. Noga Tarnopolsky,, "On its 70th Independence Day, Israel frets about whether allies are doing enough to counter Iran," 20 Apr. 2018 Greece and Turkey have seen deteriorating relations in recent weeks over disputed Aegean boundaries and oil-and-gas drilling rights off the divided island of Cyprus. Fox News, "Greek PM: Greek-Turkish relations in period of instability," 17 Apr. 2018 The intensifying storm is likely to make landfall Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane, and conditions will begin to deteriorate Tuesday night. Luz Lazo, The Seattle Times, "Residents prepare ‘for whatever Michael may bring’," 9 Oct. 2018 Faced with a mandatory evacuation order, Wrightsville Beach residents have been eager to secure their property and get off the island before weather conditions begin to deteriorate. Jonathan Serrie, Fox News, "Hurricane Florence: Coastal town braces for monster storm," 12 Sep. 2018 Since the 2013 election of Nicolás Maduro as president, Venezuela’s economy has continued to deteriorate. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "Pirates Have Returned to the Caribbean Off the Coast of Venezuela," 13 Aug. 2018 Wire reports say the condition of the body was starting to deteriorate from the long exposure to the air during viewings. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "The epic journey of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train," 30 Apr. 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

14 Feb 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 \
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).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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