de·​te·​ri·​o·​rate | \ di-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce deteriorate (audio) , dē- \
deteriorated; deteriorating

Definition of deteriorate

transitive verb

1 : to make inferior in quality or value : impair Exposure to sunlight may deteriorate the paint.

intransitive verb

: to become impaired in quality, functioning, or condition : degenerate allowed a tradition of academic excellence to deteriorate his health deteriorated

Other Words from deteriorate

deteriorative \ di-​ˈtir-​ē-​ə-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce deteriorate (audio) , dē-​ \ adjective

Examples of deteriorate in a Sentence

efforts to save a deteriorating rain forest Exposure to rain and sun will gradually deteriorate the paint.
Recent Examples on the Web Reflecting on earlier experiences caring for a dear family friend, Croft described the pain of seeing people steadily deteriorate as they were intubated, and terribly sick with COVID-19. Arielle Mitropoulos, ABC News, 12 May 2022 According to a photographer on the scene, Don Bowers, the second home to go down took only approximately four minutes to fully fall into the ocean and deteriorate into debris. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, 11 May 2022 The good weather is likely to deteriorate later in the week, as a cyclone off the coast of India is expected to blow inland. Frederick Dreier, Outside Online, 9 May 2022 The outdoor shed has a durable resin construction that won't deteriorate over time. Rena Behar, Better Homes & Gardens, 5 May 2022 The agency also said the illness can cause patients to deteriorate rapidly, even if a doctor diagnoses the condition quickly. Liz Essley Whyte And Peter Loftus, WSJ, 5 May 2022 The elevated rates of anxiety, depression, and PTSD in family members could be related to the fact that COVID-19 can cause a patient's health to deteriorate rapidly. Serena Coady, SELF, 3 May 2022 Remote patient monitoring company Biofourmis announced a $300 million Series D round this morning, a critical investment as the firm looks to products that not only identify when patients are likely to deteriorate, but can help manage their care. Casey Ross And Katie Palmer, STAT, 29 Apr. 2022 The weather will begin to deteriorate throughout the day for parts of the Southwest, marking the start of a multiday fire risk that peaks on Friday with strong winds. Monica Garrett, CNN, 27 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deteriorate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of deteriorate

1572, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for deteriorate

Late Latin deterioratus, past participle of deteriorare, from Latin deterior worse, from de- + -ter (suffix as in Latin uter which of two) + -ior (comparative suffix) — more at whether entry 2, -er

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Time Traveler for deteriorate

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The first known use of deteriorate was in 1572

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deteriorated into

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Deteriorate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for deteriorate


de·​te·​ri·​o·​rate | \ di-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce deteriorate (audio) \
deteriorated; deteriorating

Kids Definition of deteriorate

: to make or become worse or of less value Their relationship deteriorated.


intransitive verb
de·​te·​ri·​o·​rate | \ di-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce deteriorate (audio) \
deteriorated; deteriorating

Medical Definition of deteriorate

: to become impaired in quality, functioning, or condition : degenerate her health deteriorated deteriorating vision

More from Merriam-Webster on deteriorate

Nglish: Translation of deteriorate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deteriorate for Arabic Speakers


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