What does decay mean?

Definitions for decay

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word decay.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. decaynoun

    the process of gradually becoming inferior

  2. decay, declinenoun

    a gradual decrease; as of stored charge or current

  3. decay, decompositionnoun

    the organic phenomenon of rotting

  4. decaynoun

    an inferior state resulting from the process of decaying

    "the corpse was in an advanced state of decay"; "the house had fallen into a serious state of decay and disrepair"

  5. decay, radioactive decay, disintegrationverb

    the spontaneous disintegration of a radioactive substance along with the emission of ionizing radiation

  6. disintegrate, decay, decomposeverb

    lose a stored charge, magnetic flux, or current

    "the particles disintegrated during the nuclear fission process"

  7. decay, crumble, dilapidateverb

    fall into decay or ruin

    "The unoccupied house started to decay"

  8. decayverb

    undergo decay or decomposition

    "The body started to decay and needed to be cremated"


  1. decaynoun

    The process or result of being gradually decomposed.

  2. decaynoun

    A deterioration of condition.

  3. decayverb

    To deteriorate, to get worse, to lose strength or health, to decline in quality.

    The pair loved to take pictures in the decaying hospital on forty-third street.

  4. decayverb

    To rot, to go bad.

    The cat's body decayed rapidly.

  5. decayverb

    To change by undergoing fission, by emitting radiation, or by capturing or losing one or more electrons.

  6. decayverb

    To undergo optical decay, that is, to relax to a less excited state, usually by emitting a photon or phonon.

  7. decayverb

    To cause to rot or deteriorate.

    The extreme humidity decayed the wooden sculptures in the museum's collection in a matter of years.

  8. Etymology: From decair, from *, restored form of decidere, from de + cadere; compare decadent and decadence.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Decaynoun

    Etymology: from the verb.

    What comfort to this great decay may come,
    Shall be applied. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    She has been a fine lady, and paints and hides
    Her decays very well. Ben Jonson, Catiline.

    And those decays, to speak the naked truth,
    Through the defects of age, were crimes of youth. John Denham.

    By reason of the tenacity of fluids, and attrition of their parts, and the weakness of elasticity in solids, motion is much more apt to be lost than got, and is always upon the decay. Newt.

    Each may feel encreases and decays,
    And see now clearer and now darker days. Essay on Criticism.

    Taught half by reason, half by mere decay,
    To welcome death, and calmly pass away. Alexander Pope.

    They think, that whatever is called old must have the decay of time upon it, and truth too were liable to mould and rottenness. John Locke.

    And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him. Levit. xxv. 35.

    I am the very man,
    That, from your first of difference and decay,
    Have follow’d your sad steps. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

  2. To Decayverb

    To impair; to bring to decay.

    Infirmity, that decays the wise, doth ever make better the fool. William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.

    Cut off a stock of a tree, and lay that which you cut off to putrefy, to see whether it will decay the rest of the stock. Francis Bacon, Natural History, №. 995.

    He was of a very small and decayed fortune, and of no good education. Edward Hyde.

    Decay’d by time and wars, they only prove
    Their former beauty by your former love. Dryden.

    In Spain our springs, like old men’s children, be
    Decay’d and wither’d from their infancy. John Dryden, Ind. Emp.

    It is so ordered, that almost every thing which corrupts the soul decays the body. Joseph Addison, Guardian, №. 120.

  3. To DECAYverb

    To lose excellence; to decline from the state of perfection; to be gradually impaired.

    Etymology: decheoir, Fr. from de and cadere, Latin.

    The monarch oak
    Three centuries grows, and three he stays
    Supreme in state, and in three more decays. Dryden.

    The garlands fade, the vows are worn away;
    So dies her love, and so my hopes decay. Alexander Pope.


  1. Decay

    Decay is a song by the band Sevendust. It's from the band's ninth studio album Black Out the Sun.


  1. decay

    Decay refers to the process of gradual degradation, breakdown, or destruction of an object, substance, or system. This term can be used in various contexts such as biology, physics, and even societal structures, implying a state of decline or deterioration over time due to natural causes or external factors. It often involves a loss of structure, organization, function, or vitality.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Decayverb

    to pass gradually from a sound, prosperous, or perfect state, to one of imperfection, adversity, or dissolution; to waste away; to decline; to fail; to become weak, corrupt, or disintegrated; to rot; to perish; as, a tree decays; fortunes decay; hopes decay

  2. Decayverb

    to cause to decay; to impair

  3. Decayverb

    to destroy

  4. Decaynoun

    gradual failure of health, strength, soundness, prosperity, or of any species of excellence or perfection; tendency toward dissolution or extinction; corruption; rottenness; decline; deterioration; as, the decay of the body; the decay of virtue; the decay of the Roman empire; a castle in decay

  5. Decaynoun

    destruction; death

  6. Decaynoun

    cause of decay

  7. Etymology: [OF. decaeir, dechaer, decheoir, F. dchoir, to decline, fall, become less; L. de- + cadere to fall. See Chance.]


  1. Decay

    Decay is a fictional character owned by DC Comics. She appears as a villain in the Wonder Woman comic book series.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Decay

    dē-kā′, v.i. to fall away from a state of health or excellence: to waste away.—v.t. to cause to waste away: to impair.—n. a falling into a worse or less perfect state: a passing away: loss of fortune: (obs.) misfortune.—p.adj. Decayed′, reduced in circumstances.—n. Decayed′ness. [O. Fr. decair—L. de, from cadĕre, to fall.]

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. decay

    [from nuclear physics] An automatic conversion which is applied to most array-valued expressions in C; they ‘decay into’ pointer-valued expressions pointing to the array's first element. This term is borderline techspeak, but is not used in the official standard for the language.

How to pronounce decay?

How to say decay in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of decay in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of decay in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of decay in a Sentence

  1. Michael Waring:

    [ The studies ] would take a potted plant and put it in a small chamber... three feet by three feet by three feet... and they would inject a particular volatile organic compound( VOC) into the chamber... and watch it decay over time, and that decay is what they would contribute to the plant clearing the VOC, that does occur in the chamber, but it's the microbes that are absorbing the VOC, not the plant itself.

  2. Jonathan Shenkin:

    This study simply adds to the body of evidence that associates secondhand smoke and an increased risk of tooth decay among children, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in childhood.

  3. Deborah Moore:

    Xylitol is known in the laboratory to kill the main bacteria that cause tooth decay, which is why it was singled out as having possible preventive effects on tooth decay.

  4. Gabriella Sciolla:

    Z-prime is much heavier than a Z particle, something like tens of times the mass, z-prime can decay in a very simple way that yields two very energetic muons, which are basically heavier versions of electrons. If we can detect the muon signature of Z-prime, that would support models that predict the existence of Z-prime.

  5. William Butler Yeats:

    You shall go with me, newly-married bride,And gaze upon a merrier multitude.White-armed Nuala, Aengus of the Birds,Feachra of the hurtling form, and himWho is the ruler of the Western Host,Finvara, and their Land of Heart's Desire.Where beauty has no ebb, decay no flood,But joy is wisdom, time an endless song.

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Translations for decay

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • تضعضع, تحلل, اضمحلArabic
  • влошаване, гния, загнивам, разлагам се, развалям се, разлаганеBulgarian
  • rozklad, rozkládat se, hniloba, hnítCzech
  • henfaldDanish
  • Verwesung, verfallen, verfaulen, verrotten, verderben, verwesen, Verfall, faulen, abklingen, zerfallen, vermodernGerman
  • φθοράGreek
  • kadukiĝoEsperanto
  • deteriorar, pudrirSpanish
  • lahoaminen, rapautuminen, heikentyä, rapautua, maatua, mädäntyä, laho, heikkeneminen, rappeutua, heiketä, pilaantua, lahotaFinnish
  • décrépitude, pourrirFrench
  • meathlaigh, meath, meathlúIrish
  • crìonadh, mùthadhScottish Gaelic
  • התקלקלHebrew
  • क्षयHindi
  • szuvasodik, elmállik, romlás, elpusztul, tönkremegy, hanyatlás, pusztulás, korhad, rothadHungarian
  • փտել, փչանալArmenian
  • kerusakanIndonesian
  • dekadoIdo
  • imputridireItalian
  • 減衰Japanese
  • ლპობა, ხრწნა, გაფუჭებაGeorgian
  • 썩다Korean
  • interitusLatin
  • pūtLatvian
  • taimate, hanehaneMāori
  • nedbrytingNorwegian
  • in verval raken, verloederen, slecht worden, vervallen, verrottenDutch
  • forfallNorwegian
  • gnić, rozkładPolish
  • putrefação, decompor-se, apodrecer, estragar, deterioração, apodrecimento, decomposição, deteriorar, putrefazerPortuguese
  • гнить, разложение, гниение, упадок, портиться, ухудшаться, разлагаться, распад, спадRussian
  • sönderfall, sönderfalla, förfalla, ruttna, förfall, förruttnelse, mattas, försämras, sönderdelas, tackla avSwedish
  • ผุThai
  • çürümek, fenalaşmakTurkish
  • کشیUrdu
  • phân hủyVietnamese
  • 衰變Chinese

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"decay." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 10 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/decay>.

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    having or resembling a stinger or barb
    • A. contagious
    • B. appellative
    • C. aculeate
    • D. soft-witted

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