decompose

Synonym Chooser

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

Some common synonyms of decompose are decay, putrefy, rot, and spoil. While all these words mean "to undergo destructive dissolution," decompose stresses a breaking down by chemical change and when applied to organic matter a corruption.

the strong odor of decomposing vegetation

Where would decay be a reasonable alternative to decompose?

The words decay and decompose are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, decay implies a slow change from a state of soundness or perfection.

a decaying mansion

In what contexts can putrefy take the place of decompose?

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

corpses putrefying on the battlefield

How do rot and decompose relate to one another?

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 decompose?

The synonyms spoil and decompose are sometimes interchangeable, but spoil applies chiefly to the decomposition of foods.

keep the ham from spoiling

Thesaurus Entries Near decompose

Cite this Entry

“Decompose.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/decompose. Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

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