View synonyms for decompose


[ dee-kuhm-pohz ]

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.

    Synonyms: analyze, fractionate, distill

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.


/ ˌdiːkəmˈpəʊz; ˌdiːkɒmpəˈzɪʃən /


  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 Forms

  • ˌdecomˌposaˈbility, noun
  • decomposition, noun
  • ˌdecomˈposable, adjective

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Other Words From

  • decom·posa·ble adjective
  • decom·posa·bili·ty noun
  • unde·com·posa·ble adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of decompose1

1745–55; < French décomposer, equivalent to dé- dis- 1 + composer to compose

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Synonym Study

See decay.

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Example Sentences

Within the peat — packed remains of partially decomposed plants — oxygen-bearing organic compounds called cellulose contain clues to the climate history of the region.

Don’t let it decompose in nature or “fertilize” someone’s yard.

Studies of how bodies decompose underwater suggest that if the thalattosaur was a carcass when the ichthyosaur found it, the prey’s limbs would have rotted off before its tail, the authors argue.

Tropical peatlands are permanently flooded forests where fallen leaves and branches accumulate for centuries rather than decomposing.

Left to decompose, trash and recycling break down into methane or carbon dioxide.

He wants to take the fingers, let them decompose, then take the bones and make a finger bone necklace out of it.

The question before us, then, is this: how quickly does a dead person decompose?

Instead, as the body began to decompose, she spread baking soda on the floorboards to mask the smell.

By this time the husks will have begun to decompose and darken the kernels.

Mineral acids decompose it, with the evolution of sulphuretted hydrogen.

A strong heat will decompose this lunar nitre, and recover the silver.

Remember that the hanging of meat is for the purpose of allowing it to begin to decompose.

Betton's eyes, fixed on him, saw his face decompose like a substance touched by some powerful acid.