putrefy

verb

pu·​tre·​fy ˈpyü-trə-ˌfī How to pronounce putrefy (audio)
putrefied; putrefying
Choose the Right Synonym for putrefy

decay, decompose, rot, putrefy, spoil mean to undergo destructive dissolution.

decay implies a slow change from a state of soundness or perfection.

a decaying mansion

decompose stresses a breaking down by chemical change and when applied to organic matter a corruption.

the strong odor of decomposing vegetation

rot is a close synonym of decompose and often connotes foulness.

fruit was left to rot in warehouses

putrefy implies the rotting of animal matter and offensiveness to sight and smell.

corpses putrefying on the battlefield

spoil applies chiefly to the decomposition of foods.

keep the ham from spoiling

Examples of putrefy in a Sentence

we traced the bad smell to a dead skunk putrefying under the house
Recent Examples on the Web Mules killed in the assault putrefied and attracted swarms of maggots. Trip Gabriel, New York Times, 12 Jan. 2024 Just as fruit and meats left untouched began to rot and putrefy, dregs and undigested material inside the body turned poisonous if not expelled. Meg Leja, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Nov. 2023 Just as fruit and meats left untouched began to rot and putrefy, so did dregs and undigested material inside the body turn poisonous if not expelled. Discover Magazine, 7 Nov. 2023 Many recipes that survive from antiquity call for allowing fish to putrefy in open vats under the Mediterranean sun for up to three months. Taras Grescoe, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Oct. 2021 But some of the ailments Romans suffered boggle the mind—vicious fevers, wasting diseases and worms living in putrefying wounds that refused to heal. Edward Watts, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Apr. 2020 But this, Marcus stresses, only causes our emotions to putrefy and fester. Barrett Swanson, Harper's magazine, 28 Oct. 2019 The paintings of putrefying corpses and splayed-open cadavers made by Hyman Bloom between 1943 and 1954 constitute one of the most extraordinary and disturbingly beautiful bodies of work in American art. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 31 July 2019 The injunction contends that long-distance travel does not broaden the mind, as commonly supposed, but putrefies the character by exposing it to impurity. Alex Perry, Outside Online, 24 July 2019

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English putrefien, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French putrefier, from Latin putrefacere, from putrēre to be rotten + facere to make — more at do

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of putrefy was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near putrefy

Cite this Entry

“Putrefy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/putrefy. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

putrefy

verb
pu·​tre·​fy ˈpyü-trə-ˌfī How to pronounce putrefy (audio)
putrefied; putrefying
: to make or become putrid : rot sense 1a

Medical Definition

putrefy

verb
pu·​tre·​fy ˈpyü-trə-ˌfī How to pronounce putrefy (audio)
putrefied; putrefying

More from Merriam-Webster on putrefy

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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