- to fall below a normal or desirable level in physical, mental, or moral qualities; deteriorate: The morale of the soldiers degenerated, and they were unable to fight.
- to diminish in quality, especially from a former state of coherence, balance, integrity, etc.: The debate degenerated into an exchange of insults.
- Pathology. to lose functional activity, as a tissue or organ.
- Evolution. (of a species or any of its traits or structures) to revert to a simple, less highly organized, or less functionally active type, as a parasitic plant that has lost its taproot or the vestigial wings of a flightless bird.
- to cause degeneration in; bring about a decline, deterioration, or reversion in.
- having fallen below a normal or desirable level, especially in physical or moral qualities; deteriorated; degraded: a degenerate king.
- having lost, or become impaired with respect to, the qualities proper to the species or kind: a degenerate vine.
- characterized by or associated with degeneracy: degenerate times.
- Mathematics. pertaining to a limiting case of a mathematical system that is more symmetrical or simpler in form than the general case.
- (of modes of vibration of a system) having the same frequency.
- (of quantum states of a system) having equal energy.
- a person who has declined, as in morals or character, from a type or standard considered normal.
- a person or thing that reverts to an earlier stage of culture, development, or evolution.
- a sexual deviate.
Origin of degenerate
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for degenerate
Then, with a grin, “And we all know how degenerate those people are.”‘Mozart in the Jungle’: Inside Amazon’s Brave New World of Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music
December 23, 2014
Being a fan of Liquid Sky carries the cachet of degenerate hipness to this day, 32 years after it was filmed.Punks, UFOs, and Heroin: How ‘Liquid Sky’ Became a Cult Movie
June 2, 2014
He is a progenitor of what could be called the degenerate school of American fiction.American Dreams: ‘Tobacco Road’ by Erskine Caldwell
April 30, 2012
If the states want to emulate casinos, degenerate, compulsive play is where the money is.Online Casinos Run by New York, Other States Will Target Gambling Addicts
January 4, 2012
The Guardian warns, in a page-wide headline, that it could degenerate into a fiasco of Suez 1956 proportions.The Great Fallacy of Obama's War
November 13, 2009
We modify it in these degenerate days to "blood will have money:"
Domestic care, like every other, is liable to degenerate into excess.Female Scripture Biographies, Vol. II
Francis Augustus Cox
Yet these country-people are no more corrupt or degenerate than the townspeople.
It is the idleness, luxury and corruption of large cities which cause it to degenerate.
He disliked her child, the little Charles Rougon, who was degenerate and weak-minded.A Zola Dictionary
J. G. Patterson
- to become degenerate
- biology (of organisms or their parts) to become less specialized or functionally useless
- having declined or deteriorated to a lower mental, moral, or physical level; debased; degraded; corrupt
- (of the constituents of a system) having the same energy but different wave functions
- (of a semiconductor) containing a similar number of electrons in the conduction band to the number of electrons in the conduction band of metals
- (of a resonant device) having two or more modes of equal frequency
- (of a code) containing symbols that represent more than one letter, figure, etc
- (of a plant or animal) having undergone degeneration
- a degenerate person
Word Origin and History for degenerate
late 15c., from Latin degeneratus, past participle of degenerare "to be inferior to one's ancestors, to become unlike one's race or kind, fall from ancestral quality," used of physical as well as moral qualities, from phrase de genere, from de + genus (genitive generis) "birth, descent" (see genus). The noun is from 1550s.
1540s, from Latin degeneratus, past participle of degenerare "fall from ancestral quality" (see degenerate (adj.)). Figurative sense of "to fall off, decline" was in Latin. Related: Degenerated; degenerating.
- Characterized by degeneration, as of tissue, a cell, or an organ.
- Having lost one or more highly developed functions, characteristics, or structures through evolution.
- To undergo the process of degeneration.