Origin of degenerate

1485–95; < Latin dēgenerātus (past participle of dēgenerāre to decline from an ancestral standard), equivalent to de- + gener-, stem of genus race (see genus) + -ātus -ate1; see generate
Related formsde·gen·er·ate·ly, adverbde·gen·er·ate·ness, nounnon·de·gen·er·ate, adjective, nounnon·de·gen·er·ate·ly, adverbnon·de·gen·er·ate·ness, nounpre·de·gen·er·ate, adjectiveun·de·gen·er·ate, adjectiveun·de·gen·er·at·ed, adjectiveun·de·gen·er·at·ing, adjective

Synonyms for degenerate

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for degenerated

Contemporary Examples of degenerated

Historical Examples of degenerated

  • Before five miles were passed, the retreat had degenerated into a mere rout.

  • Even the very fire, in a fit of pique, has degenerated into a dull glow.

    Molly Bawn

    Margaret Wolfe Hamilton

  • As it grew in power so it degenerated into an instrument of tyranny.

  • On the other hand, he has not degenerated from some ideal pacific state.

  • When there were no more heathen it degenerated into extreme popular farce.


    William Graham Sumner

British Dictionary definitions for degenerated


verb (dɪˈdʒɛnəˌreɪt) (intr)

to become degenerate
biology (of organisms or their parts) to become less specialized or functionally useless

adjective (dɪˈdʒɛnərɪt)

having declined or deteriorated to a lower mental, moral, or physical level; debased; degraded; corrupt
  1. (of the constituents of a system) having the same energy but different wave functions
  2. (of a semiconductor) containing a similar number of electrons in the conduction band to the number of electrons in the conduction band of metals
  3. (of a resonant device) having two or more modes of equal frequency
(of a code) containing symbols that represent more than one letter, figure, etc
(of a plant or animal) having undergone degeneration

noun (dɪˈdʒɛnərɪt)

a degenerate person
Derived Formsdegenerately, adverbdegenerateness, noun

Word Origin for degenerate

C15: from Latin dēgenerāre, from dēgener departing from its kind, ignoble, from de- + genus origin, race
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 degenerated



1540s, from Latin degeneratus, past participle of degenerare "fall from ancestral quality" (see degenerate (adj.)). Figurative sense of "to fall off, decline" was in Latin. Related: Degenerated; degenerating.



late 15c., from Latin degeneratus, past participle of degenerare "to be inferior to one's ancestors, to become unlike one's race or kind, fall from ancestral quality," used of physical as well as moral qualities, from phrase de genere, from de + genus (genitive generis) "birth, descent" (see genus). The noun is from 1550s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for degenerated




Characterized by degeneration, as of tissue, a cell, or an organ.
Having lost one or more highly developed functions, characteristics, or structures through evolution.


To undergo the process of degeneration.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.