[dek-uh-duhns, dih-keyd-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 dec·a·den·cy [dek-uh-duhn-see, dih-keyd-n-] /ˈdɛk ə dən si, dɪˈkeɪd n-/.

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 formsnon·dec·a·dence, nounnon·dec·a·den·cy, nouno·ver·dec·a·dence, noun

Synonyms for decadence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for decadence

Contemporary Examples of decadence

Historical Examples of decadence

  • 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 for decadence

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

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