• synonyms


[dih-jen-uh-rey-shuh n]
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  1. the process of degenerating.
  2. the condition or state of being degenerate.
  3. Pathology.
    1. a process by which a tissue deteriorates, loses functional activity, and may become converted into or replaced by other kinds of tissue.
    2. the condition produced by such a process.
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Origin of degeneration

First recorded in 1475–85, degeneration is from the Late Latin word dēgenerātiōn- (stem of dēgenerātiō). See de-, generation
Related formsnon·de·gen·er·a·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for degeneration


  1. the process of degenerating
  2. the state of being degenerate
  3. biology the loss of specialization, function, or structure by organisms and their parts, as in the development of vestigial organs
    1. impairment or loss of the function and structure of cells or tissues, as by disease or injury, often leading to death (necrosis) of the involved part
    2. the resulting condition
  4. electronics negative feedback of a signal
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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 degeneration


c.1600, from French dégéneration (15c.) or directly from Late Latin degenerationem (nominative degeneratio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin degenerare (see degenerate (adj.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

degeneration in Medicine


  1. The gradual deterioration of specific tissues, cells, or organs with impairment or loss of function, caused by injury, disease, or aging.
  2. The evolutionary decline or loss of a function, characteristic, or structure in an organism or a species.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.