decay


decay
decay vb Decay, decompose, rot, putrefy, spoil, disintegrate, crumble mean to undergo or, in some cases, to cause something to undergo destructive dissolution.
Decay implies change, commonly a natural and gradual change, from a state of soundness or perfection; it may or may not suggest the certainty of complete destruction
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teeth decaying from lack of care

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infirmity, that decays the wiseShak.

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as winter fruits grow mild ere they decayPope

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nor shall I discuss the causes why science decayed and died under the Roman Empire— Inge

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Decompose stresses the idea of breaking down by separation into constituent parts or elements (as by chemical action in the laboratory or, in respect to animal and vegetable matter in nature, by the action of living microorganisms)
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whenever molecules combine or decompose or atoms change partners, it is chemistry— Furnas

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the action of bacteria in decomposing the organic products contained and forming gases useful for power and heat— Morrison

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the odor of decomposing meats

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after slaying his colleague, he chemically decomposed the body— Guild

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Rot implies decay and decomposition, usually of or as if of animal or vegetable matter; the term may or may not imply offensiveness or foulness; figuratively it differs from decay in stressing stagnation or corruption rather than decline
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blossoms . . . which fall before they wither rather than cling rotting to the stalk— Binyon

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there shall they rot, ambition's honored fools!— Byron

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it was this garrison life. Half civilian, half military, with all the drawbacks of both. It rotted the soul, robbed a man of ambition, faith— Irwin Shaw

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Putrefy not only suggests the rotting of or as if of animal matter but also stresses its extreme offensiveness to sight and smell
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corpses putrefying on the sun-drenched battle-fields

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flesh in that long sleep is not putrefiedDonne

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Spoil (see also INJURE) is often used in place of decay, rot, or putrefy when foodstuffs, especially in the home or the market, are referred to
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roasted pork spoils quickly if not kept in a refrigerator

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Disintegrate implies either a breaking down or a breaking apart so that the wholeness or integrity of the thing or the cohesiveness of its particles is destroyed or is in process of destruction
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the London atmosphere tends to disintegrate bricks

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Rutherford and Soddy found that radioactive substances disintegrate in a way they described as "spontaneous" —the rate of decay cannot be expedited or retarded by any known physical process— Jeans

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the other great civilizations with which it was once contemporary have passed away or been disintegrated and transformed— Ellis

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Crumble implies disintegration of or as if of a substance that breaks into fine particles; neither it nor disintegrate need imply, as the remaining terms almost inevitably do, an alteration at the chemical level
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crumbled a piece of bread in his fingers

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winter rains had washed and washed against its . . . old bricks until the plaster between them had crumbledDeland

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great periods of human culture which flourished at their height just as the substructure crumbledKrutch

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Analogous words: *weaken, undermine, sap, debilitate, enfeeble: taint, *contaminate, defile, pollute: dilapidate, *ruin, wreck: deliquesce (see LIQUEFY)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Decay — De*cay , n. 1. 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… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • decay — [dē kā′, dikā′] vi. [ME decaien < Anglo Fr & OFr decäir < VL * decadere: see DECADENCE] 1. to lose strength, soundness, health, beauty, prosperity, etc. gradually; waste away; deteriorate 2. to rot or decompose 3. to undergo radioactive… …   English World dictionary

  • Decay — De*cay , v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Decayed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Decaying}.] [OF. decaeir, dechaer, decheoir, F. d[ e]choir, to decline, fall, become less; L. de + cadere to fall. See {Chance}.] To pass gradually from a sound, prosperous, or perfect… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Decay — De*cay , v. t. 1. To cause to decay; to impair. [R.] [1913 Webster] Infirmity, that decays the wise. Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. To destroy. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • decay — [n] breaking down, collapse adulteration, atrophy, blight, caries, consumption, corrosion, crumbling, decadence, decline, decomposition, decrease, decrepitude, degeneracy, degeneration, depreciation, deterioration, dilapidation, disintegration,… …   New thesaurus

  • decay — I verb addle, atrophy, be reduced in worth, become enfeebled, become lower in quality, become putrescent, blight, break down, break up, canker, consume, corrode, corrupt, crumble, decline, decompose, decompound, degenerate, depreciate,… …   Law dictionary

  • decay — ► VERB 1) rot through the action of bacteria and fungi. 2) decline in quality or vigour. 3) Physics (of a radioactive substance, particle, etc.) undergo change to a different form by emitting radiation. ► NOUN 1) the state or process of decaying …   English terms dictionary

  • Decay — Contents 1 Science and technlogy 1.1 Biology 1.2 Physics 1.3 …   Wikipedia

  • decay — {{Roman}}I.{{/Roman}} noun ADJECTIVE ▪ rapid ▪ slow ▪ dental (esp. BrE), tooth ▪ industrial (esp. BrE), urban …   Collocations dictionary

  • decay — 01. The [decaying] leaves in the garden are actually good for it and make the soil richer. 02. Tooth [decay] is preventable with proper oral hygiene. 03. The dentist said my tooth is so [decayed] that he may have to pull it. 04. The rise in… …   Grammatical examples in English


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