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See more synonyms for degradation on Thesaurus.com
  1. the act of degrading.
  2. the state of being degraded.
  3. Physical Geography. the wearing down of the land by the erosive action of water, wind, or ice.
  4. Chemistry. the breakdown of an organic compound.
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Origin of degradation

1525–35; < Late Latin dēgradātiōn- (stem of dēgradātiō), equivalent to dēgradāt(us) (past participle of dēgradāre to degrade) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsdeg·ra·da·tion·al, adjectivedeg·ra·da·tive, adjectivean·ti·deg·ra·da·tion, adjectivenon·deg·ra·da·tion, nounself-deg·ra·da·tion, noun

Synonyms for degradation

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

Examples from the Web for degradation

Contemporary Examples of degradation

Historical Examples of degradation

  • From the symbol of her degradation, she looked to the man whose action had placed it there.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • It was blasphemy to think of her in such case, subjected to the degradation of these processes.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • She had very honourable alliances, and yet she has thought it no degradation to be governess to Madame de Pompadour's daughter.

    The Secret Memoirs of Louis XV./XVI, Complete

    Madame du Hausset, an "Unknown English Girl" and the Princess Lamballe

  • She contrasted them with his own weakness and supineness and degradation.

    Louisiana Lou

    William West Winter

  • He was right at the bottom now, in the last state of degradation.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for degradation


  1. the act of degrading or the state of being degraded
  2. a state of degeneration, squalor, or poverty
  3. some act, constraint, etc, that is degrading
  4. the wearing down of the surface of rocks, cliffs, etc, by erosion, weathering, or some other process
  5. chem a breakdown of a molecule into atoms or smaller molecules
  6. physics an irreversible process in which the energy available to do work is decreased
  7. RC Church the permanent unfrocking of a priest
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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 degradation


1530s, from French dégradation (14c., Old French degradacion), from Medieval Latin degradationem (nominative degradatio), noun of action from past participle stem of degradare (see degrade).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

degradation in Medicine


  1. Progressive decomposition of a chemical compound into a less complex compound.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.