Dictionary > Decay


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. Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay. (Goldsmith)
Origin: OF. Decaeir, dechaer, decheoir, f. Dechoir, to decline, fall, become less; L. De- – cadere to fall. See chance.
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 decay of virtue; the decay of the roman empire; a castle in decay. Perhaps my god, though he be far before, May turn, and take me by the hand, and more – May strengthen my decays. (Herbert) His Johnson’s failure was not to be ascribed to intellectual decay. (Macaulay) Which has caused the decay of the consonants to follow somewhat different laws. (James Byrne)
2. Destruction; death.
3. Cause of decay. He that plots to be the only figure among ciphers, is the decay of the whole age. (Bacon)
Synonym: decline, consumption. See decline.
A gradual decrease; as of stored charge or current.The organic phenomenon of rotting.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.The spontaneous disintegration of a radioactive substance along with the emission of ionizing radiation.The decomposition of biological tissue into more simpler forms, usually catalysed by the presence of fungi and bacteria so they can extract energy from the decaying material.

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