se·​nes·​cence | \ si-ˈne-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce senescence (audio) \

Definition of senescence

1 : the state of being old : the process of becoming old
2 : the growth phase in a plant or plant part (such as a leaf) from full maturity to death

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Other Words from senescence

senescent \ si-​ˈne-​sᵊnt How to pronounce senescence (audio) \ adjective

Did you know?

Senescence can be traced back to Latin senex, meaning "old." Can you guess which other English words come from senex? Senile might come to mind, as well as senior. But another one might surprise you: senate. This word for a legislative assembly dates back to ancient Rome, where the Senatus was originally a council of elders composed of the heads of patrician families. There's also the much rarer senectitude, which, like senescence, refers to the state of being old (specifically, to the final stage of the normal life span).

Examples of senescence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Species such as sea anemones and hydras show no signs of senescence, and many researchers believe that aging is not inevitable. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 The book was his crowning achievement, released just as Europe was entering a brave new world that, in hindsight, also resembled a forgetful senescence. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, 19 Aug. 2021 Their length decreases with aging, and this contributes to cell senescence, meaning the cells can no longer divide. Liz Seegert, Time, 1 June 2021 Seventeen years beneath the ground, a single mating frenzy in the treetops, then a rapid senescence and death. Washington Post, 26 May 2021 The film suggests that the movie industry’s maturity imposed on him a premature senescence, that the norms of the profession entailed an artistic progeria which Hong ultimately resisted by making the drastic decision to shift to self-production. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 24 May 2021 Rapid progress in the biology of aging is leading us to wonder whether humans could take our first tentative steps towards negligible senescence by treating the aging process itself. Andrew Steele, WSJ, 10 Apr. 2021 Aging, or senescence, is a progressive loss of function and performance with time. Yao-hua Law, Science | AAAS, 25 Mar. 2021 Capturing this trait—known as negligible senescence—is the holy grail of aging research. Adrian Woolfson, WSJ, 26 Feb. 2021

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

1695, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for senescence

senescent, from Latin senescent-, senescens, present participle of senescere to grow old, from sen-, senex old

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Time Traveler for senescence

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The first known use of senescence was in 1695

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Last Updated

5 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Senescence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for senescence



English Language Learners Definition of senescence

: the state of being old or the process of becoming old


se·​nes·​cence | \ si-ˈnes-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce senescence (audio) \

Medical Definition of senescence

: the state of being old : the process of becoming old

More from Merriam-Webster on senescence

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for senescence

Britannica English: Translation of senescence for Arabic Speakers


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