Origin of rot

before 900; (v.) Middle English rot(t)en, Old English rotian, cognate with Frisian rotsje, Dutch rotten; (noun) Middle English, perhaps < Old Norse rot (perhaps partly derivative of the v.); cf. ret, rotten)
Related formshalf-rot·ted, adjectiveun·rot·ted, adjective

Synonyms for rot

Synonym study

1. See decay.

Antonyms for rot

4, 6. purify.


rule of thumb.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rot

Contemporary Examples of rot

Historical Examples of rot

  • He had too much insight, and too much exact information as well, to dismiss them as rot.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • Throw me on a dunghill, and let me rot there, to infect the air!'

  • What rot not to know their places, when they must know them!

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I'm really writing all this rot to get myself into the "twitter-twitter" mood.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Why, the mill-stones wear away with rot more than with grinding corn.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for rot



verb rots, rotting or rotted

to decay or cause to decay as a result of bacterial or fungal action
(intr ; usually foll by off or away) to fall or crumble (off) or break (away), as from natural decay, corrosive action, or long use
(intr) to become weak, debilitated, or depressed through inertia, confinement, etc; languishrotting in prison
to become or cause to become morally corrupt or degenerate
(tr) textiles another word for ret


the process of rotting or the state of being rotten
something decomposed, disintegrated, or degenerateRelated adjective: putrid
short for dry rot
pathol any putrefactive decomposition of tissues
a condition in plants characterized by breakdown and decay of tissues, caused by bacteria, fungi, etc
vet science a contagious fungal disease of the feet of sheep characterized by inflammation, swelling, a foul-smelling discharge, and lameness
(also interjection) nonsense; rubbish

Word Origin for rot

Old English rotian (vb); related to Old Norse rotna . C13 (noun), from Scandinavian



abbreviation for

rotation (of a mathematical function)
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 rot

Old English rotian "to decay, putrefy," from Proto-Germanic *rutjan (cf. Old Saxon roton, Old Norse rotna, Old Frisian rotia, Middle Dutch roten, Dutch rotten, Old High German rozzen "to rot," German rößen "to steep flax"), from stem *rut-. Related: Rotted; rotting.


early 14c., from rot (v.) or of Scandinavian origin (cf. Icelandic rot, Swedish röta, Danish røde "decay, putrefaction"), from the root of the verb. Slang noun sense of "rubbish, trash" is from 1848.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rot in Science




To undergo decomposition, especially organic decomposition; decay.


Any of several plant diseases characterized by the breakdown of tissue and caused by various bacteria or fungi.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.