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Synonym Chooser

How is the word decay different from other verbs like it?

Some common synonyms of decay are decompose, putrefy, rot, and spoil. While all these words mean "to undergo destructive dissolution," decay implies a slow change from a state of soundness or perfection.

a decaying mansion

Where would decompose be a reasonable alternative to decay?

While the synonyms decompose and decay are close in meaning, decompose stresses a breaking down by chemical change and when applied to organic matter a corruption.

the strong odor of decomposing vegetation

In what contexts can putrefy take the place of decay?

In some situations, the words putrefy and decay are roughly equivalent. However, putrefy implies the rotting of animal matter and offensiveness to sight and smell.

corpses putrefying on the battlefield

How are the words rot and decompose related as synonyms of decay?

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

fruit was left to rot in warehouses

When is spoil a more appropriate choice than decay?

The meanings of spoil and decay largely overlap; however, spoil applies chiefly to the decomposition of foods.

keep the ham from spoiling

Thesaurus Entries Near decay

Cite this Entry

“Decay.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on decay

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