dys·​tro·​phy | \ ˈdi-strə-fē How to pronounce dystrophy (audio) \
plural dystrophies

Definition of dystrophy

1 : a condition produced by faulty nutrition
2 : any myogenic atrophy especially : muscular dystrophy

Keep scrolling for more

Breaking Down Dystrophy

Since the prefix dys- means "bad" or "difficult", dystrophy is always a negative term. Originally it meant "a condition caused by improper nutrition", but today the term is instead used for a variety of other conditions, particularly conditions that noticeably affect the muscles. Of the many types of muscular dystrophy, the best known is Duchenne's, a terrible disease that strikes about one in 3,300 males and produces severe wasting of the muscles. However, the muscular dystrophies generally affect many other organs and systems as well. And the other dystrophies, which tend to involve the eyes or hands, don't much resemble the muscular dystrophies.

Examples of dystrophy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Hershoff was diagnosed with Fuch's dystrophy in 2000 and almost lost his sight. Marika Gerken, CNN, "This Florida man invented a robot that inserts and removes your contact lenses for you," 8 Nov. 2020 At Avellino Lab in Menlo Park, pivoting to coronavirus work meant putting the brakes on rolling out a first-of-its-kind test to screen people for corneal dystrophies and a rare eye condition called keratoconus. J.d. Morris, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area labs fighting coronavirus, sometimes leaving regular work aside," 12 Apr. 2020 The most common type is called Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which affects a protein called dystrophin (though not all dystrophies have anything to do with dystrophin). Popular Science, "Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about muscles," 1 Jan. 2019 The type of blindness treated by Luxturna, known as RPE65-associated inherited retinal dystrophy, is even rarer, affecting only 1,000 to 2,000 individuals in the United States. Jeremy Schafer, STAT, "Should employers take a chance on little-known Embarc to pay for gene therapy?," 12 Nov. 2019 Alyson Johnston was 12 when she was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a macular dystrophy condition that causes central vision to deteriorate over time. High School Journalism Institute, oregonlive.com, "Teen finds outlet in writing after life-changing diagnosis," 20 July 2019 Carla suffered from cone-rod dystrophy, a condition that causes a person's vision to deteriorate over time. Nicole Chavez, CNN, "When a solo traveler went missing in Peru, it changed her family's lives completely," 9 June 2019 Falkowski has had several eye surgeries after being diagnosed with Fuchs’ dystrophy, a genetic disorder of the cornea that has left him legally blind in one eye, his attorney said. Kelly Brennan, Philly.com, "Former QVC exec gets 30 months in prison for bilking $1M from network," 10 July 2018 If that sounds modest, boys with 10% or even 5% of normal levels have a much more mild dystrophy known as Becker. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Risky Drug Approval Lesson," 4 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dystrophy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of dystrophy

1901, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dystrophy

dys- + -trophy, after New Latin dystrophia, French dystrophie or German Dystrophie

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dystrophy

Time Traveler for dystrophy

Time Traveler

The first known use of dystrophy was in 1901

See more words from the same year

Statistics for dystrophy

Last Updated

16 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dystrophy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystrophy. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dystrophy


dys·​tro·​phy | \ ˈdis-trə-fē How to pronounce dystrophy (audio) \
plural dystrophies

Medical Definition of dystrophy

1 : a condition produced by faulty nutrition waters with a high fluorine content are responsible for the dental dystrophy known as mottled enamelLancet
2 : any myogenic atrophy especially : muscular dystrophy

More from Merriam-Webster on dystrophy

Nglish: Translation of dystrophy for Spanish Speakers

Comments on dystrophy

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!