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[dek-ruh-muh nt]
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  1. the act or process of decreasing; gradual reduction.
  2. the amount lost by reduction.
  3. Mathematics. a negative increment.
  4. Physics. the ratio of amplitudes of a damped harmonic motion in the course of two successive oscillations.

Origin of decrement

1475–85; < Latin dēcrēmentum, equivalent to dēcrē(tus) (see decrease) + -mentum -ment
Related formsdec·re·men·tal [dek-ruh-men-tl] /ˌdɛk rəˈmɛn tl/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for decrement

Historical Examples

  • The decrement in the capacity of the grooves follows the proportion of 15 to 11.

    A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures and Mines

    Andrew Ure

  • Decrement, dek′re-ment, n. the act or state of decreasing: the quantity lost by decrease.

  • It is perfectly intelligible that a progressive fatigue and decrement of the magnitude of contraction must ensue.

    Life Movements in Plants

    Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose

  • Evolution is the decrement of this difference between the purely formal and the actual.

    The Mystery of Space

    Robert T. Browne

  • See an admirable statement of the three forms of decrement, in Hay, Trait de Minralogie, vol.

British Dictionary definitions for decrement


  1. the act of decreasing; diminution
  2. maths a negative increment
  3. physics a measure of the damping of an oscillator, expressed by the ratio of the amplitude of a cycle to its amplitude after one period
  4. (of spectra) a sequence of related spectrum lines decaying in intensity, e.g. Balmer decay

Word Origin

C17: from Latin dēcrēmentum, from dēcrescere to decrease
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

Word Origin and History for decrement


1620s, from Latin decrementum "diminution," from stem of decrescere (see decrease).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper