[ dih-jes-chuhn, dahy- ]
/ dɪˈdʒɛs tʃən, daɪ- /
Save This Word!

the process in the alimentary canal by which food is broken up physically, as by the action of the teeth, and chemically, as by the action of enzymes, and converted into a substance suitable for absorption and assimilation into the body.
the function or power of digesting food: My digestion is bad.
the act of digesting or the state of being digested.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of digestion

1350–1400; Middle English digestioun<Anglo-French, Middle French <Latin dīgestiōn- (stem of dīgestiō), equivalent to dīgest(us) (see digest) + -iōn--ion


di·ges·tion·al, adjectivenon·di·ges·tion, nounre·di·ges·tion, nounself-di·ges·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use digestion in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for digestion

/ (dɪˈdʒɛstʃən, daɪ-) /

the act or process in living organisms of breaking down ingested food material into easily absorbed and assimilated substances by the action of enzymes and other agentsRelated adjective: peptic
mental assimilation, esp of ideas
bacteriol the decomposition of sewage by the action of bacteria
chem the treatment of material with heat, solvents, chemicals, etc, to cause softening or decomposition

Derived forms of digestion

digestional, adjective

Word Origin for digestion

C14: from Old French, from Latin digestiō a dissolving, digestion
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

Medical definitions for digestion

[ dī-jĕschən, dĭ- ]

The process by which food is converted into substances that can be absorbed and assimilated by the body, especially that accomplished in the alimentary canal by the mechanical and enzymatic breakdown of foods into simpler chemical compounds.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for digestion

[ dī-jĕschən ]

The process by which food is broken down into simple chemical compounds that can be absorbed and used as nutrients or eliminated by the body. In most animals, nutrients are obtained from food by the action of digestive enzymes. In humans and other higher vertebrates, digestion takes place mainly in the small intestine. In protists and some invertebrates, digestion occurs by phagocytosis.
The decomposition of organic material, such as sewage, by bacteria.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for digestion


The breaking down of food, which is made up of complex organic molecules (see also organic molecule), into smaller molecules that the body can absorb and use for maintenance and growth.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.