ne·​cro·​sis nə-ˈkrō-səs How to pronounce necrosis (audio)
plural necroses nə-ˈkrō-ˌsēz How to pronounce necrosis (audio)
: usually localized death of living tissue

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Cells die naturally after a period of time, but may also die as a result of injuries, infections, or cancer. Burns produce necrosis, and the bedsores suffered by nursing-home patients are a form of necrosis. The dreaded condition known as gangrene, in which the dying tissue turns black or green, is another form. When untreated, the dying cells release substances that lead to the death of surrounding cells, so untreated necrosis can lead to death. Treatment usually requires the removal of the necrotic tissue, and in severe cases can even involve amputating a limb.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In chronic inflammatory disease, Tracey figured, messages from the brain telling the spleen to switch off production of a particular inflammatory protein, tumour necrosis factor (TNF), weren’t being sent. Gaia Vince, Discover Magazine, 26 May 2015 It’s believed that more than 400 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, which can lead to blindness, nerve damage, tissue necrosis necessitating amputation, kidney failure, and stroke. Jerome Groopman, The New York Review of Books, 21 Sep. 2022 Compared with those with a CD4 count above 300, those with a count below 100 were much more likely to have skin lesions leading to necrosis, impacts to the lungs and other infections and sepsis. Benjamin Ryan, NBC News, 21 Feb. 2023 As early as 1917, women detailing watch dials with the luminous paint suffered from anemia, bone fractures, and necrosis of the jaw, a result of them using their pursed lips to shape the contaminated brush tips into a fine point. John Lisle, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Sep. 2020 Twenty-two days after the necrosis started, the patient was started on an antifungal treatment. Christie Wilcox, Discover Magazine, 29 Feb. 2016 In the liver, blocking this enzyme causes a cascade of trouble that results in cell death and tissue necrosis. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 13 Oct. 2022 The most serious potential side effect is the chance development of skin necrosis, which both Dr. Tutela and Dr. Bitar say is extremely rare, but entirely possible, depending on the injector or clinician providing the service. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 30 Sep. 2022 The official cause, which Wengrow was reluctant to discuss, was pancreatic necrosis. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, 11 July 2022 See More

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

Word History


Late Latin, from Greek nekrōsis, from nekroun to make dead, from nekros dead body

First Known Use

1583, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of necrosis was in 1583

Dictionary Entries Near necrosis

Cite this Entry

“Necrosis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


ne·​cro·​sis nə-ˈkrō-səs, ne- How to pronounce necrosis (audio)
plural necroses -ˌsēz How to pronounce necrosis (audio)
: death of living tissue
specifically : death of a portion of tissue differentially affected by local injury (as loss of blood supply, corrosion, burning, or the local lesion of a disease) compare necrobiosis

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