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[dek-uh-duhns, dih-keyd-ns]
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  1. 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.
  2. moral degeneration or decay; turpitude.
  3. unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence.
  4. (often initial capital letter) the decadent movement in literature.
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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

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for decadency

decay, decline, degeneracy, decadence, declination, degeneration, decadency, declension, decaying

Examples from the Web for decadency

Historical Examples of decadency

  • And then came a decadency, like a wagon rolling out of ear-shot.

    The Voodoo Gold Trail

    Walter Walden

  • The census of 1850 furnishes the following facts connected with the decadency of the Southern soil.

  • All in Uxmal proclaims the decadency of art, the relaxation of morals, the depravity of customs, the lewdness of the inhabitants.

British Dictionary definitions for decadency



  1. deterioration, esp of morality or culture; decay; degeneration
  2. the state reached through such a process
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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 decadency



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper