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verb (used without object), pu·tre·fied, pu·tre·fy·ing.
  1. to become putrid; rot.
  2. to become gangrenous.

Origin of putrefy

1350–1400; Middle English putrefien < Middle French putrefier < Vulgar Latin *putreficāre, for Latin putrefacere to make rotten
Related formspu·tre·fi·a·ble, adjectivepu·tre·fi·er, nounun·pu·tre·fi·a·ble, adjectiveun·pu·tre·fied, adjective

Synonyms for putrefy

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

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British Dictionary definitions for putrefy


verb -fies, -fying or -fied
  1. (of organic matter) to decompose or rot with an offensive smell
Derived Formsputrefaction (ˌpjuːtrɪˈfækʃən), nounputrefactive or putrefacient (ˌpjuːtrɪˈfeɪʃənt), adjectiveputrefiable, adjectiveputrefier, noun

Word Origin for putrefy

C15: from Old French putrefier + Latin putrefacere, from puter rotten + facere to make
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 putrefy

mid-15c., from Middle French putréfier, from Latin putrefacere "to make rotten," from putrere (see putrid) + facere (see factitious). Related: Putrefied; putrefying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

putrefy in Medicine


  1. To become decayed or cause to decay and have a foul odor.
  2. To make or become gangrenous.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.