de·​te·​ri·​o·​ra·​tion di-ˌtir-ē-ə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce deterioration (audio)
: the action or process of becoming impaired or inferior in quality, functioning, or condition : the state of having deteriorated
rust deterioration
the deterioration of academic standards
Choose the Right Synonym for deterioration

deterioration, degeneration, decadence, decline mean the falling from a higher to a lower level in quality, character, or vitality.

deterioration implies generally the impairment of value or usefulness.

the deterioration of the house through neglect

degeneration stresses physical, intellectual, or especially moral retrogression.

the degeneration of their youthful idealism into cynicism

decadence presupposes a reaching and passing the peak of development and implies a turn downward with a consequent loss in vitality or energy.

cited love of luxury as a sign of cultural decadence

decline differs from decadence in suggesting a more markedly downward direction and greater momentum as well as more obvious evidence of deterioration.

the meteoric decline of his career after the scandal

Examples of deterioration in a Sentence

the gradual deterioration of the weather a deterioration of academic standards
Recent Examples on the Web Any significant deterioration in performance or signs of struggling are reasons to take a break. Amanda MacMillan, Health, 10 May 2024 Their version of daytime TV was a radical take on the traditional format, incorporating candid Q&A sessions, conversations about current issues about controversial topics, including the empowerment of women, the deterioration of the environment, as well as police violence. Addie Morfoot, Variety, 8 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for deterioration 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deterioration.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see deteriorate

First Known Use

circa 1658, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of deterioration was circa 1658

Dictionary Entries Near deterioration

Cite this Entry

“Deterioration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


de·​te·​ri·​o·​ra·​tion di-ˌtir-ē-ə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce deterioration (audio)
: the action or process of deteriorating : the state of having deteriorated
personality deterioration
neurological deterioration
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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