down·​grade | \ ˈdau̇n-ˌgrād How to pronounce downgrade (audio) \

Definition of downgrade

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a downward grade (as of a road)
2 : a descent toward an inferior state a career on the downgrade


downgraded; downgrading; downgrades

Definition of downgrade (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to lower in quality, value, status, or extent

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Examples of downgrade in a Sentence

Noun a downgrade in the company's stock prices a singing career on the downgrade Verb The restaurant was downgraded from three to two stars. She didn't intend to downgrade the importance of her colleague's work.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That is a clear downgrade for Milwaukee, as Brogdon is coming off one of the more efficient offensive seasons in league history, and Matthews is more of an erratic scorer., "Most read on," 30 Oct. 2019 Before the downgrade, a handful of gymnasts had attempted it, hoping to capitalize on the skill’s astronomical start value. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, "The International Federation of Gymnastics Needs to Keep Up with Simone Biles," 11 Oct. 2019 Battery life is a definite downgrade at about 15 hours a charge, but SteelSeries includes a second battery in the box that charges in the base station. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, "Guidemaster: The best gaming headsets for your console or gaming rig," 21 Aug. 2019 Aguirre, however, said ratings downgrades are not necessarily something to be feared. San Diego Union-Tribune, "California lawmakers race to pass wildfire legislation by July 12," 4 July 2019 Boss blamed its last downgrade to forecasts, in early August, on problems in the U.S. Washington Post, "Hugo Boss Can’t Compete When Luxury Is All About Handbags," 11 Oct. 2019 Subsequently, tepid June quarter earnings have resulted in downgrades across industries. Anand James, Quartz India, "Foreign investors are still not enthused by Modi government’s latest policy boost," 29 Aug. 2019 Those who take part can upgrade, downgrade or pause their subscription at any time. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Nike Just Launched A Sneaker Club For Your Kids' Growing Feet," 12 Aug. 2019 And, of course, more catastrophic wildfires and depletion of the fund would lead to downgrades. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Passage of wildfire liability bill leads to upgrade for SDG&E from credit ratings agency," 30 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Vincent said officials are downgraded for erroneous calls as part of a point-system evaluation for officials. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "NFL says referees are 'held accountable' after criticism from Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians," 2 Nov. 2019 Ratings agencies could have downgraded Brazil’s sovereign debt rating further into junk, thus raising the government’s borrowing costs as pensions swallowed up an ever-increasing percentage of the budget. Rachel Gamarski, Washington Post, "Why the Future of Brazil’s Economy Rides on Pensions," 25 Oct. 2019 Many businesses are downgrading their expectations for the economy for the next 12 months, Ashworth said. Stephen Gandel, CBS News, "Bank lending slowed in third quarter, heightening recession fears," 18 Oct. 2019 According to English-language news outlet France24, when the 110th edition version of the famed and revered restaurant guide was released, Veyrat discovered that La Maison des Bois had been downgraded from a maximum three stars to just two. Melissa Locker, Time, "Cheese Dispute Alert. Chef Insists He Lost Michelin Star Because of a Misguided Cheddar Assumption," 25 Sep. 2019 By 2007, Beijing had applied sufficient pressure on the Bush administration — including through such friends of the regime as Henry Kissinger — to ensure that Chen’s next transit was downgraded to a refueling stop in Alaska. Therese Shaheen, National Review, "The Need to Clarify and Strengthen Our Relationship with Taiwan," 11 Sep. 2019 Seby said hundreds of businesses and institutions could be affected if Colorado’s air rating is downgraded: oil and gas drilling, refineries, large breweries, print shops, wastewater treatment plants and hospitals. Dan Elliott, Los Angeles Times, "Colorado invites EPA to lower its air quality rating," 7 Sep. 2019 Now, credit ratings agency Fitch is warning that the company's bonds could get downgraded to junk status if things don't turn around. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, "More trouble for Kraft Heinz: Its bonds could soon be rated junk," 12 Aug. 2019 San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison had their bond ratings downgraded earlier this year amid wildfire threats. San Diego Union-Tribune, "California wildfire commission recommends easing liability rules for utilities," 8 June 2019

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


1847, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for downgrade

Time Traveler

The first known use of downgrade was in 1847

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Statistics for downgrade

Last Updated

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Downgrade.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for downgrade



Financial Definition of downgrade

What It Is

A downgrade is an announcement of an analyst lowering their opinion on the desirability of a company as an investment. It can apply to either debt or equity.

How It Works

Downgrades can come from a variety of sources: brokerage firms, research firms, ratings agencies, etc.

Downgrades of equities can happen for several reasons, but usually they center on industry, regulatory, technology, or management changes that the analyst feels will hinder the issuer's future performance. These factors create fundamental shifts in the analyst's outlook, making the security appear either fully valued or overvalued.

Debt downgrades generally come from ratings agencies such as Moody's or Standard & Poor's (S&P). A downgrade from one of them is a major signal that an issuer is more likely to default on its debt. If a bond is downgraded to a level below investment grade (aka, "junk"), there is often a serious sell off of those bonds, because most institutional investors are forbidden from owning junk bonds.

Why It Matters

Ratings have a large influence on the demand of a security. Downgrades (or even rumors of downgrades) tell investors that a security is now believed to be riskier, which may have a negative impact on the security's price. In turn, downgrades often lead to less trading activity and lowered liquidity.

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce downgrade (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of downgrade

 (Entry 1 of 2)

chiefly US
: an area or surface that goes downward : a downward slope
: an occurrence in which something becomes worse, less valuable, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of downgrade (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give (someone or something) a lower rank or grade
: to cause (someone or something) to be thought of as less valuable, important, etc.


down·​grade | \ ˈdau̇n-ˌgrād How to pronounce downgrade (audio) \

Kids Definition of downgrade

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a downward slope (as of a road) I lost my brakes on the downgrade.


downgraded; downgrading

Kids Definition of downgrade (Entry 2 of 2)

: to lower in grade, rank, position, or standing The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm.

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