of a chemical compound: to become reduced in complexity
plastics that don't easily degrade
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In Shakespeare's King Lear, the old king is degraded by the daughters he has given his kingdom to. He finds it degrading, for instance, when the number of his guards is reduced from 100 to 25. His degradation seems complete when, after going mad, he's reduced to living in the wilderness. As you can see, degrade is often a synonym for humiliate.
The group accuses the company of degrading women in its ads.
He felt degraded by their remarks.
Scratches on a camera lens will degrade the image.
Pollution has degraded air quality.
Recent Examples on the WebThe best view was right in front of the projector, with the image quality degrading only slightly from very sharp angles.—L.a. Hubilla, Peoplemag, 21 Sep. 2023 If cell types in various tissues develop at different rates, would their proteins degrade at different rates, too?
Michael Dorrity at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg was digging into that question by thinking about how temperature affects development.—Quanta Magazine, 18 Sep. 2023 Many of these false listings tout the opportunity to do drugs with or even be verbally degraded by specific celebs.—Angela Yang, NBC News, 14 Sep. 2023 Potency Understanding the factors that can degrade the potency of delta 8 products is essential for proper storage:
Exposure to Light: As mentioned earlier, exposure to light can break down cannabinoids, reducing their effectiveness over time.—Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 27 Aug. 2023 Overgrazing degraded the rangelands, and mesquite and creosote bushes crowded out native grasses.—Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2023 That can trigger an immune response: Because plastics can’t be degraded, white blood cells die in the battle, causing inflammation.—Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 15 Sep. 2023 Since oil degrades latex, getting massage oil on a latex condom or dental dam can prevent your barrier from doing its job.—Ro White, SELF, 15 Sep. 2023 The company’s cat-state qubits currently degrade in 10 seconds.—IEEE Spectrum, 13 Sep. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'degrade.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English, from Anglo-French degrader, from Late Latin degradare, from Latin de- + gradus step, grade — more at grade entry 1