[ dih-jes-chuhn, dahy- ]
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  1. 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.

  2. the function or power of digesting food: My digestion is bad.

  1. the act of digesting or the state of being digested.

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

Other words from digestion

  • di·ges·tion·al, adjective
  • non·di·ges·tion, noun
  • re·di·ges·tion, noun
  • self-di·ges·tion, noun

Words Nearby digestion

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use digestion in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for digestion


/ (dɪˈdʒɛstʃən, daɪ-) /

  1. 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 agents: Related adjective: peptic

  2. mental assimilation, esp of ideas

  1. bacteriol the decomposition of sewage by the action of bacteria

  2. chem the treatment of material with heat, solvents, chemicals, etc, to cause softening or decomposition

Origin of digestion

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

Derived forms of digestion

  • digestional, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for digestion


[ dī-jĕschən ]

  1. 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.

  2. 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.