What does decline mean?

Definitions for decline

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

Princeton's WordNet

  1. decline, diminutionnoun

    change toward something smaller or lower

  2. decline, declinationnoun

    a condition inferior to an earlier condition; a gradual falling off from a better state

  3. decay, declinenoun

    a gradual decrease; as of stored charge or current

  4. descent, declivity, fall, decline, declination, declension, downslopeverb

    a downward slope or bend

  5. worsen, declineverb

    grow worse

    "Conditions in the slum worsened"

  6. refuse, reject, pass up, turn down, declineverb

    refuse to accept

    "He refused my offer of hospitality"

  7. refuse, declineverb

    show unwillingness towards

    "he declined to join the group on a hike"

  8. decline, go down, waneverb

    grow smaller

    "Interest in the project waned"

  9. declineverb

    go down

    "The roof declines here"

  10. decline, slump, correctverb

    go down in value

    "the stock market corrected"; "prices slumped"

  11. declineverb

    inflect for number, gender, case, etc., "in many languages, speakers decline nouns, pronouns, and adjectives"


  1. declinenoun

    Downward movement, fall.

  2. declinenoun

    A sloping downward, e.g. of a hill or road.

  3. declinenoun

    A weakening.

  4. declinenoun

    A reduction or diminution of activity.

  5. declineverb

    To move downwards, to fall, to drop.

    The dollar has declined rapidly since 2001.

  6. declineverb

    To become weaker or worse.

    My health declined in winter.

  7. declineverb

    To refuse, forbear.

    On reflection I think I will decline your generous offer.

  8. declineverb

    To list the inflected forms of a noun, pronoun (and in some languages adjective) for case and number.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Declinenoun

    The state of tendency to the worse; diminution; decay. Contrary to increase, improvement, or elevation.

    Etymology: from the substantive.

    Thy rise of fortune did I only wed;
    From its decline, determin’d to recede. Matthew Prior.

    Those fathers lived in the decline of literature. Jonathan Swift.

  2. To Declineverb

    And now fair Phœbus ’gan decline in haste,
    His weary waggon to the western vale. Fairy Queen, b. ii.

    And leaves the semblance of a lover, fixt
    In melancholy deep, with head declin’d,
    And love-dejected eyes. James Thomson, Spring, l. 1020.

    He had wisely declined that argument, though in their common sermons they gave it. Edward Hyde, b. viii.

    Since the muses do invoke my pow’r,
    I shall no more decline that sacred bow’r,
    Where Gloriana, their great mistress, lies. Edmund Waller.

    Though I the business did decline,
    Yet I contriv’d the whole design,
    And sent them their petition. John Denham.

    If it should be said that these minute bodies are indissoluble, because it is their nature to be so, that would not be to render a reason of the thing proposed, but, in effect, to decline rendering any. Robert Boyle, History of Firmness.

    Could her mind have been captivated with the glories of this world, she had them all laid before her; but she generously declined them, because she saw the acceptance of them was inconsistent with religion. Joseph Addison, Freeholder, №. 21.

    Whatever they judged to be most agreeable, or disagreeable, they would pursue or decline. Francis Atterbury.

    You decline musa, and construe Latin, by the help of a tutor, or with some English translation. Isaac Watts, Improvement.

  3. To DECLINEverb

    Etymology: declino, Latin.

    And then with kind embracements, tempting kisses,
    And with declining head into his bosom,
    Bid him shed tears, as being overjoy’d. William Shakespeare.

    Neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many, to wrest judgment. Ex. xxiii. 2.

    Sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, the father should be as a ward to the son. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    They’ll be by th’ fire, and presume to know
    What’s done i’ th’ capitol; who’s like to rise,
    Who thrives, and who declines. William Shakespeare, Coriolanus.

    Sometimes nations will decline so low
    From virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,
    But justice, and some fatal curse annex’d,
    Deprives them of their outward liberty. John Milton, Par. Lost.

    That empire must decline,
    Whose chief support and sinews are of coin. Edmund Waller.

    And nature, which all acts of life designs,
    Not like ill poets, in the last declines. John Denham.

    Thus then my lov’d Euryalus appears;
    He looks the prop of my declining years! John Dryden, Æn.

    Next that, is when autumnal warmth declines;
    E’er heat is quite decay’d, or cold begun,
    Or Capricorn admits the Winter sun. John Dryden, Virg. Georg.

    Faith and morality are declined among us. Jonathan Swift.

    God, in his wisdom, hath been pleased to load our declining years with many sufferings, with diseases, and decays of nature. Jonathan Swift.


  1. decline

    Decline refers to a gradual decrease or reduction in quantity, quality, value, strength, or power. It can also refer to the act of politely refusing or rejecting an offer or invitation. In the biological aspect, it may mean a gradual deterioration of physical or mental health.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Declineverb

    to bend, or lean downward; to take a downward direction; to bend over or hang down, as from weakness, weariness, despondency, etc.; to condescend

  2. Declineverb

    to tend or draw towards a close, decay, or extinction; to tend to a less perfect state; to become diminished or impaired; to fail; to sink; to diminish; to lessen; as, the day declines; virtue declines; religion declines; business declines

  3. Declineverb

    to turn or bend aside; to deviate; to stray; to withdraw; as, a line that declines from straightness; conduct that declines from sound morals

  4. Declineverb

    to turn away; to shun; to refuse; -- the opposite of accept or consent; as, he declined, upon principle

  5. Declineverb

    to bend downward; to bring down; to depress; to cause to bend, or fall

  6. Declineverb

    to cause to decrease or diminish

  7. Declineverb

    to put or turn aside; to turn off or away from; to refuse to undertake or comply with; reject; to shun; to avoid; as, to decline an offer; to decline a contest; he declined any participation with them

  8. Declineverb

    to inflect, or rehearse in order the changes of grammatical form of; as, to decline a noun or an adjective

  9. Declineverb

    to run through from first to last; to repeat like a schoolboy declining a noun

  10. Declineverb

    a falling off; a tendency to a worse state; diminution or decay; deterioration; also, the period when a thing is tending toward extinction or a less perfect state; as, the decline of life; the decline of strength; the decline of virtue and religion

  11. Declineverb

    that period of a disorder or paroxysm when the symptoms begin to abate in violence; as, the decline of a fever

  12. Declineverb

    a gradual sinking and wasting away of the physical faculties; any wasting disease, esp. pulmonary consumption; as, to die of a decline

  13. Etymology: [OE. declinen to bend down, lower, sink, decline (a noun), F. dcliner to decline, refuse, fr. L. declinare to turn aside, inflect (a part of speech), avoid; de- + clinare to incline; akin to E. lean. See Lean, v. i.]


  1. Decline

    Decline is a change over time from previously efficient to inefficient organizational functioning, from previously rational to non-rational organizational and individual decision-making, from previously law-abiding to law violating organizational and individual behavior, from previously virtuous to iniquitous individual moral behavior. Note: The word decline should not be confused with the word obsolete. Decline refers to the degenerating of something whereas obsolete refers to the outdating of something or that it is no longer in use. It is the process of declining, a gradual sinking and wasting away. Social decline or moral decline is typically characterised as reduced adherence to cultural or social norms or values and widespread lapses in ethical behavior.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Decline

    de-klīn′, v.i. to bend or turn away from (a straight line); to deviate: to refuse: to bend down: to fail or decay: to stoop or condescend: to draw to an end.—v.t. to bend down: to turn away from: to refuse: to avoid: (gram.) to give the changes of a word in the oblique cases.—n. a falling off: deviation: decay: a gradual sinking of the bodily faculties, consumption.—adjs. Declin′able, having inflection for the oblique cases; Declī′nal, bending downward; Dec′linant (her.), having the tail hanging down—also Dec′livant.—ns. Declinā′tion, act of declining: a sloping or bending downward: deviation: (astron.) distance from the celestial equator; Dec′linātor, an instrument determining declination.—adj. Declin′atory, containing a declination or refusal—ns. Declin′ature, act of declining or refusing: (law) a plea declining the jurisdiction of a judge; Declinom′eter, an instrument for measuring the declination of the compass—i.e. the deviation of the magnetic needle from the true north. [Fr. décliner—L. de, down, away from, clināre, to bend. See Lean.]

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'decline' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #2442

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'decline' in Nouns Frequency: #1088

  3. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'decline' in Verbs Frequency: #529

How to pronounce decline?

How to say decline in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of decline in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of decline in Pythagorean Numerology is: 7

Examples of decline in a Sentence

  1. Jane E. Brody:

    Turn your midlife crisis to your own advantage by making it a time for renewal of your body and mind, rather than stand by helplessly and watch them decline.

  2. Otis Brawley:

    The biggest reason for the decline that started in 1991 was the prevalence of smoking in the United States started going down in 1965, that’s the reason why we started having a decline in 1991, and that decline has continued because the prevalence of people smoking in the United States has continued to go down.

  3. James L. Hayes:

    Jingshen is the Mandarin word for spirit and vivacity. It is an important word for those who would lead, because above all things, spirit and vivacity set effective organizations apart from those that will decline and die.

  4. Sigmund Freud:

    The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief.

  5. Marilyn Ferguson:

    Of all the self-fulfilling prophecies in our culture, the assumption that aging means decline and poor health is probably the deadliest.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for decline

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • رفArabic
  • праскланя́ць, скланя́цьBelarusian
  • упадък, наклонявам се надолу, склон, отказвам, скланям, влошавам се, западане, западам, спадам, влошаванеBulgarian
  • declivi, declinar-se, caiguda, refusar, declinar, debilitar-seCatalan, Valencian
  • skloňovat, pokles, klesat, odmítnoutCzech
  • sinken, Fall, zurückgehen, Rückgang, ablehnen, abnehmen, deklinieren, Abnahme, fallen, GefälleGerman
  • declinar, rechazarSpanish
  • کاهش می یابدPersian
  • alamäki, taivuttaa, lasku, heikentyä, heikentyminen, laskea, pudotus, heiketä, pudota, kieltäytyäFinnish
  • bendaFaroese
  • refuser, accorderFrench
  • meath, meathlú, meathlaighIrish
  • claon, rach bhuaitheScottish Gaelic
  • ירידה, נחלש, היחלשות, היטה, ירד, סירב, נפילה, דחהHebrew
  • refizeHaitian Creole
  • hanyatlik, gyengül, hanyatlásHungarian
  • declinareItalian
  • ბრუნებაGeorgian
  • abnegō, declinesLatin
  • afname, helling, achteruitgaan, afwijzen, afzwakken, verzwakking, verbuigen, verval, terugval, achteruitgang, afnemen, weigeren, vervallen, terugvallen, verzwakkenDutch
  • avslåNorwegian
  • deklinować, [[odmieniać]] ([[przez]] [[przypadekPolish
  • declive, declinar, declínio, recusarPortuguese
  • спад, склонять, упадок, уклон, ухудшение, склон, сокращение, спускRussian
  • одбити, odbitiSerbo-Croatian
  • medlut, utförsbacke, nedförsbackeSwedish
  • 下降Chinese

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"decline." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 2 Oct. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/decline>.

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    indecision in speech or action
    • A. peccadillo
    • B. wavering
    • C. secession
    • D. vigorish

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