• synonyms


[dih-jes-chuh n, 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.
  3. the act of digesting or the state of being digested.
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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
Related formsdi·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. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for digestion

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • But why rasp your nerves and spoil your digestion by so fuming over their politics?

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • His constitution was strong; but, somehow or other, his digestion was not as good as it might be.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • He has the constitution of a rhinoceros, the digestion of an ostrich, and the concentration of an oyster.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • What a digestion the man must have for the hardest kinds of humiliation!

  • She should have taken straight brandy to settle her digestion.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for digestion


  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 agentsRelated adjective: peptic
  2. mental assimilation, esp of ideas
  3. bacteriol the decomposition of sewage by the action of bacteria
  4. chem the treatment of material with heat, solvents, chemicals, etc, to cause softening or decomposition
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Derived Formsdigestional, adjective

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for digestion


late 14c., from Old French digestion (13c.), from Latin digestionem (nominative digestio), noun of action from past participle stem of digerere (see digest (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

digestion in Medicine


(dī-jĕschən, dĭ-)
  1. 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.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

digestion in Science


  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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

digestion in Culture


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.

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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.