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[dek-uh-duh ns, dih-keyd-ns] /ˈdɛk ə dəns, dɪˈkeɪd ns/
the act or process of falling into an inferior condition or state; deterioration; decay:
Some historians hold that the fall of Rome can be attributed to internal decadence.
moral degeneration or decay; turpitude.
unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence.
(often initial capital letter) the decadent movement in literature.
Also, decadency
[dek-uh-duh n-see, dih-keyd-n-] /ˈdɛk ə dən si, dɪˈkeɪd n-/ (Show IPA)
Origin of decadence
1540-50; < Middle French < Medieval Latin dēcadentia, equivalent to Late Latin dēcadent- (stem of dēcadēns), present participle of dēcadere to fall away (de- de- +cad(ere) to fall + -ent- -ent) + -ia noun suffix; see -ence
Related forms
nondecadence, noun
nondecadency, noun
overdecadence, noun
1. degeneration, retrogression, decline. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for decadence
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The Gladstone period had passed its zenith and its decadence had already begun.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • The decadence of Narbonne as a port is due to natural causes.

    In the Heart of Vosges Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • "Well, I hope so," sighed Phoebe, wondering secretly at the decadence of love.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • It is only in the days of their decadence that a strong light beats into heaven.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • The Irish say that England is in the first stage of her decadence, and they say it with some reason.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
British Dictionary definitions for decadence


deterioration, esp of morality or culture; decay; degeneration
the state reached through such a process
Word Origin
C16: from French, from Medieval Latin dēcadentia, literally: a falling away; see decay
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for decadence

1540s, from Middle French décadence (early 15c.), from Medieval Latin decadentia "decay," from decadentem (nominative decadens) "decaying," present participle of decadere "to decay," from Latin de- "apart, down" (see de-) + cadere "to fall" (see case (n.1)). Used of periods in art since 1852, on French model.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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