decay [dē kā′, dikā′]
[ME decaien < Anglo-Fr & OFr decäir < VL * decadere: see DECADENCE]
1. to lose strength, soundness, health, beauty, prosperity, etc. gradually; waste away; deteriorate
2. to rot or decompose
3. to undergo radioactive disintegration spontaneously
to cause to decay
1. a gradual decline; deterioration
2. a wasting away
3. a rotting or decomposing, as of vegetable matter
a) rottenness
b) decayed or rotted matter
a) the spontaneous disintegration of radioactive atoms with a resulting decrease in their number: see HALF-LIFE
b) the spontaneous disintegration of a particle or nucleus, as a meson, baryon, etc., as it changes into a more stable state: see RADIOACTIVE SERIES
SYN.- DECAY implies gradual, often natural, deterioration from a normal or sound condition [his teeth have begun to decay]; ROT refers to the decay of organic, esp. vegetable, matter, caused by bacteria, fungi, etc. [rotting apples ]; PUTREFY suggests the offensive, foul-smelling rotting of animal matter [bodies putrefying in the fields ]; SPOIL is the common informal word for the decay of foods [fish spoils quickly in summer ]; MOLDER suggest a slow, progressive, crumbling decay [old buildings molder away ]; DISINTEGRATE implies the breaking up of something into parts or fragments so that the wholeness of the original is destroyed [the disintegration of rocks ]; DECOMPOSE suggests the breaking up or separation of something into its component elements [a decomposing chemical compound ]: it is also a somewhat euphemistic substitute for ROT and PUTREFY

English World dictionary. . 2014.

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  • Decay — De*cay , n. 1. Gradual failure of health, strength, soundness, prosperity, or of any species of excellence or perfection; tendency toward dissolution or extinction; corruption; rottenness; decline; deterioration; as, the decay of the body; the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Decay — De*cay , v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Decayed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Decaying}.] [OF. decaeir, dechaer, decheoir, F. d[ e]choir, to decline, fall, become less; L. de + cadere to fall. See {Chance}.] To pass gradually from a sound, prosperous, or perfect… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Decay — De*cay , v. t. 1. To cause to decay; to impair. [R.] [1913 Webster] Infirmity, that decays the wise. Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. To destroy. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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