Physics. (of a radioactive nucleus) to change spontaneously into one or more different nuclei in a process in which atomic particles, as alpha particles, are emitted from the nucleus, electrons are captured or lost, or fission takes place.
to cause to decay or decompose; rot: The dampness of the climate decayed the books.
a gradual falling into an inferior condition; progressive decline: the decay of international relations; the decay of the Aztec civilizations.
decline in or loss of strength, health, intellect, etc.: His mental decay is distressing.
Physics. radioactive decay.
Aerospace. the progressive, accelerating reduction in orbital parameters, particularly apogee and perigee, of a spacecraft due to atmospheric drag.
- de·cay·a·ble, adjective
- de·cayed·ness [dih-keyd-nis, -key-id-], /dɪˈkeɪd nɪs, -ˈkeɪ ɪd-/, adjective
- de·cay·less, adjective
- non·de·cayed, adjective
- non·de·cay·ing, adjective
- re·de·cay, verb
- sem·i·de·cay, noun
- sem·i·de·cayed, adjective
- un·de·cay·a·ble, adjective
- un·de·cayed, adjective
- un·de·cay·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use decay in a sentence
That low-oxygen setting almost certainly slowed tissue decay, the scientists say, giving it time to be preserved.How fossilization preserved a 310-million-year-old horseshoe crab’s brain | Rebecca Dzombak | August 20, 2021 | Science News
In the decay of the Clubhouse model, we sense that the creator economy is all hat and not enough cowboy.
These fossils preserve an incredible amount of anatomical detail, as well as behaviors, mainly because very little decay takes place after the organism is rapidly trapped in the resin.Ancient Brains: Inside the Extraordinary Preservation of a 310-Million-Year-Old Nervous System | John Paterson | July 30, 2021 | Singularity Hub
Her sincerity is most evident when she captures signs of decay.D.C. is a city of grand monuments and federal buildings. These photos capture the often unseen poetic details. | Kelsey Ables | July 30, 2021 | Washington Post
Also, their penchant for tunneling creates a naturally aerated environment for the decay to happen.Best compost bins: These eco-friendly products help you to do your part for the environment | Florie Korani | July 20, 2021 | Popular-Science
Before anti-vaxxers, there were anti-fluoriders: a group who spread fear about the anti-tooth decay agent added to drinking water.
As a means of preventing tooth decay in those cities that do fluoridate, the practice certainly looks like a success.
Their decay proceeded without a ready supply of oxygen, producing hydrocarbons like methane instead of oxygen-bearing molecules.
Political Order and Political decay Francis Fukuyama (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) How are strong democratic states created?
A drawing of what was deemed a “deer pig” was also sent through the uranium decay ringer.
The General in command of the station was a feeble old man, suffering from senile decay.The Red Year | Louis Tracy
It will hold tenaciously there, the last of its race, days after the decay of its greener and more healthy-looking mates.
The decay and ruin of nearly all the "old families" in Ireland are among the penalties of disregarding it.Glances at Europe | Horace Greeley
The old dining-hall had shared in the general decay, and been shorn of all its ancient honours.The World Before Them | Susanna Moodie
It is likewise formed daring the decay of animal and vegetable matters, and is consequently evolved from dung and compost heaps.Elements of Agricultural Chemistry | Thomas Anderson
British Dictionary definitions for decay
to decline or cause to decline gradually in health, prosperity, excellence, etc; deteriorate; waste away
to rot or cause to rot as a result of bacterial, fungal, or chemical action; decompose
Also: disintegrate (intr) physics
(of an atomic nucleus) to undergo radioactive disintegration
(of an elementary particle) to transform into two or more different elementary particles
(intr) physics (of a stored charge, magnetic flux, etc) to decrease gradually when the source of energy has been removed
the process of decline, as in health, mentality, beauty, etc
the state brought about by this process
decomposition, as of vegetable matter
rotten or decayed matter: the dentist drilled out the decay
a spontaneous transformation of an elementary particle into two or more different particles
of an excited atom or molecule, losing energy by the spontaneous emission of photons
physics a gradual decrease of a stored charge, magnetic flux, current, etc, when the source of energy has been removed: See also time constant
music the fading away of a note
- decayable, adjective
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
Scientific definitions for decay
The breaking down or rotting of organic matter through the action of bacteria, fungi, or other organisms; decomposition.
The spontaneous transformation of a relatively unstable particle into a set of new particles. For example, a pion decays spontaneously into a muon and an antineutrino. The decay of heavy or unstable atomic nuclei (such as uranium or carbon-10) into more stable nuclei and emitted particles is called radioactive decay. The study of particle decay is fundamental to subatomic physics. See more at fundamental force radioactive decay.
To undergo decay.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.