de·​te·​ri·​o·​ra·​tion | \ di-ˌtir-ē-ə-ˈrā-shən, dē-\

Definition of deterioration 

: 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

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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

Drew announced in March that the arcade would close because of rapid deterioration over the winter. Shawn R. Beals, Courant Community, "Downtown Middletown Traffic Changes Coming With Parking Additions," 26 Apr. 2018 Once clear, assess your deck or patio and repair any damage or deterioration. Wire Services, The Seattle Times, "10 items to check off your fall home to-do list," 15 Oct. 2018 Placing responsibility for the rapid deterioration in United States-Russian relations squarely on the shoulders of the Russian president has its appeal. Daniel Beer, New York Times, "Does Vladimir Putin Speak for the Russian People?," 6 July 2018 Pictures on the IronPlanet auction site show significant deterioration to the plane. Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY, "You can now bid to buy Elvis Presley's private jet; sold 'as is'," 22 June 2018 In the early ’60s, many planners felt that mass transit was a necessary national priority for urban development, despite decades of postwar deterioration due to competition from the automobile. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Public transit’s missed opportunity," 20 Nov. 2018 An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May. Hedges plays a 20-something speechwriter trying to cope with his once-vibrant grandmother’s mental deterioration. Adam Green, Vogue, "With a Bushel of New Film Roles—and a Broadway Debut—Lucas Hedges Is Learning to Love the Spotlight," 24 Sep. 2018 The across-the-board, multigeneration deterioration, some would say debasement, of the institutions of governance has left the major parties with dirty hands. WSJ, "No Tea Party on the Democrats’ Left Wing," 12 Sep. 2018 The increase in cost, housing officials said, is partly a result of the deterioration of its aging buildings since Nycha last assessed its capital needs in 2011. New York Times, "What Will It Cost to Fix New York’s Public Housing?," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deterioration.' 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 deterioration

circa 1658, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for deterioration

see deteriorate

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Statistics for deterioration

Last Updated

4 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for deterioration

The first known use of deterioration was circa 1658

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English Language Learners Definition of deterioration

: the act or process of becoming worse


de·​te·​ri·​o·​ra·​tion | \ di-ˌtir-ē-ə-ˈrā-shən \

Medical Definition of deterioration 

: the action or process of deteriorating : the state of having deteriorated personality deterioration neurological deterioration

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Comments on deterioration

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


marked by shyness and lack of polish

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