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dec-

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variant of deca- before a vowel: decathlon.
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Other definitions for dec- (2 of 4)

dec.1

abbreviation
(in prescriptions) pour off.

Origin of dec.

1
From the Latin word dēcantā

Other definitions for dec- (3 of 4)

dec.2

abbreviation
deceased.
decimeter.
declension.
decrease.
Music. decrescendo.

Other definitions for dec- (4 of 4)

Dec.

abbreviation
December.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

WORDS THAT USE DEC-

What does dec- mean?

Dec- is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “ten.” It appears in a small range of terms.

Dec- comes from the Greek déka, meaning “ten.” The word December is related to this root via the Latin equivalent, decem. In fact, what is now the twelfth month of the year was once the tenth month of the early Roman calendar. Learn more at our entry for December.

What are variants of dec-?

Dec- is a variant of deca-, which loses its –a– when combined with words or word elements beginning with vowels. A similar prefix is deka-, which is reserved for the naming of metric units, and a related Latin-origin form is deci-, from Latin decimus, “tenth.”

Want to know more? Check out our Words That Use articles for deca-, deci-, and deka-.

Examples of dec-

An example of a term you may have come across that features dec- is decade, “a period of ten years.” Decade comes from the Greek dekad-, which features the equivalent of the form dec-.

The form dec- means “ten,” as we have seen. The suffix -ade has various meanings, including denoting “a group or unit comprising a certain number, sometimes of years.” Decade literally translates to “a group of ten [years].”

What are some words that use the combining form dec-?

What are some other forms that deca- may be commonly confused with?

Not every word that begins with the letters dec-, such as decadence or decapitate, is necessarily using the combining form dec- to denote “ten.” Learn why decadence is related to “decay” at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

A biathlon is an athletic contest comprising two different events, typically skiing and shooting. A triathlon is an athletic contest comprising three different events. In keeping with this pattern, what is a decathlon?

How to use dec- in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dec- (1 of 2)

Dec

abbreviation for
December

British Dictionary definitions for dec- (2 of 2)

dec.

abbreviation for
deceased
music decrescendo
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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