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See more synonyms for decompose on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), de·com·posed, de·com·pos·ing.
  1. to separate or resolve into constituent parts or elements; disintegrate: The bacteria decomposed the milk into its solid and liquid elements.
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verb (used without object), de·com·posed, de·com·pos·ing.
  1. to rot; putrefy: The egg began to decompose after a day in the sun.
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Origin of decompose

1745–55; < French décomposer, equivalent to dé- dis-1 + composer to compose
Related formsde·com·pos·a·ble, adjectivede·com·pos·a·bil·i·ty, nounun·de·com·pos·a·ble, adjective


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Synonym study

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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for decomposable

Historical Examples

  • Small, white, acid, permanent needles; not decomposable by water.

    Merck's 1899 Manual

    Merck &amp; Co.

  • The old alchemists, who thought that gold was decomposable and therefore creatable, shrank from the idea of producing the diamond.

    The Alkahest

    Honore de Balzac

  • Manifestly, decomposable states of consciousness cannot exist before the states of consciousness out of which they are composed.

  • On the other hand, if this stratum is soft or decomposable it will show as a depression, or "sag" as it is called.

  • The molecule of Avogadro has always been a decomposable particle.

British Dictionary definitions for decomposable


  1. to break down (organic matter) or (of organic matter) to be broken down physically and chemically by bacterial or fungal action; rot
  2. chem to break down or cause to break down into simpler chemical compounds
  3. to break up or separate into constituent parts
  4. (tr) maths to express in terms of a number of independent simpler components, as a set as a canonical union of disjoint subsets, or a vector into orthogonal components
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Derived Formsdecomposable, adjectivedecomposability, noundecomposition (ˌdiːkɒmpəˈzɪʃən), noun
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 decomposable



1750s, "to separate into components," from de- "opposite of" + compose. Sense of "putrefy" is first recorded 1777. Related: Decomposed; decomposing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper