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1. The process of degenerating.
2. The state of being degenerate.
3. Medicine Gradual deterioration of specific tissues, cells, or organs with corresponding impairment or loss of function, caused by injury, disease, or aging.
4. Biology The evolutionary decline or loss of a function, characteristic, or structure in an organism or species.
5. Electronics Loss of or gain in power in an amplifier caused by unintentional negative feedback.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. the process of degenerating
2. the state of being degenerate
3. (Biology) biology the loss of specialization, function, or structure by organisms and their parts, as in the development of vestigial organs
4. (Biology)
a. impairment or loss of the function and structure of cells or tissues, as by disease or injury, often leading to death (necrosis) of the involved part
b. the resulting condition
5. (Electronics) electronics negative feedback of a signal
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(dɪˌdʒɛn əˈreɪ ʃən)

1. the process of degenerating.
2. the condition or state of being degenerate.
[1475–85; < Late Latin]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



go to hell in a handbasket To indulge in petty or sporadic dissipation; to carouse occasionally, in a small way; to degenerate bit by bit; gradually to go downhill morally. This slang expression is often used to describe typically adolescent anti-social behavior, usually of a temporary nature. However, it sometimes carries connotations of more serious and permanent moral decline. Its origin is unknown but it is interesting to speculate that it may be related to go to heaven in a wheelbarrow ‘to be damned’—handbasket replacing wheelbarrow to indicate the relative small-ness of one’s sins; hell replacing heaven to accommodate more literal minds. See go to heaven in a wheelbarrow, PUNISHMENT.

go to pot To deteriorate, to go downhill, to degenerate, to fall into a state of disuse or ruin. Although the exact origin of this expression is unknown, it may be related to the earlier phrase go to the pot, literally ‘to be cut into pieces like meat for the pot,’ and figuratively ‘to be ruined or destroyed.’

If it were to save the whole empire from going to pot, nobody would stay at home. (Pall Mall Gazette, February, 1884)

go to rack and ruin To degenerate, to deteriorate, to decline, to fall apart; also to go to rack and to go to ruin. Rack ‘destruction’ is a variant of wrack and wreck. The expression dates from at least 1599.

Everything would soon go to sixes and sevens, and rack and ruin. (Elizabeth Blower, George Bateman, 1782)

go to the dogs To degenerate morally or physically, to deteriorate, to go to ruin. The expression, which dates from at least the early 17th century, is thought to have come from the earlier Latin phrase addicere aliquem canibus ‘to bequeath him to dogs.’

Rugby and the school-house are going to the dogs. (Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown’s School Days, 1857)

on the high-road to Needham On the road to poverty or ruin; on the skids; suffering a mental, moral, or financial decline. This British expression, of infrequent occurrence, simply puns on need without reference to a specific locality.

on the skids On the road to poverty, ruin, disgrace, or oblivion; in a state of rapid deterioration or decline. The skids as denotative of a moral condition may derive from Skid Row. (See LOCALITY.) It appears frequently in longer phrases such as hit the skids ‘start on the downward path’ or put the skids under ‘cause the ruin or decline’ of a person or plan.

By 1929 Bix [Beiderbecke] was on the way down—not yet on the skids, but the good time and the big time was behind him. (Stephen Longstreet, The Real Jazz Old and New, 1956)

the seamy side The most disagreeable, unsavory, and offensive aspect; the sordid, perverse, degenerate, or immoral features. Literally, the seamy side refers to the wrong, or underside, of pieced fabric which shows the rough edges and seams of an otherwise acceptable article of clothing, tapestry, etc. The figurative use of the seamy side was pioneered by Shakespeare:

Oh fie upon them! Some such squire he was
That turned your wit the seamy side without,
And made you to suspect me with the Moor.
(Othello, IV, ii)

A commonly used derivative is seamy.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.degeneration - the process of declining from a higher to a lower level of effective power or vitality or essential quality
physical process, process - a sustained phenomenon or one marked by gradual changes through a series of states; "events now in process"; "the process of calcification begins later for boys than for girls"
attack - the onset of a corrosive or destructive process (as by a chemical agent); "the film was sensitive to attack by acids"; "open to attack by the elements"
obsolescence - the process of becoming obsolete; falling into disuse or becoming out of date; "a policy of planned obsolescence"
macular degeneration - eye disease caused by degeneration of the cells of the macula lutea and results in blurred vision; can cause blindness
2.degeneration - the state of being degenerate in mental or moral qualities
abasement, abjection, degradation - a low or downcast state; "each confession brought her into an attitude of abasement"- H.L.Menchken
3.degeneration - passing from a more complex to a simpler biological form
transformation, transmutation, shift - a qualitative change
abiotrophy - a loss of vitality and a degeneration of cells and tissues not due to any apparent injury
cataplasia - (biology) degenerative reversion of cells or tissue to a less differentiated or more primitive form
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun deterioration, decline, dissolution, descent, regression, dissipation, degeneracy, debasement the degeneration of our political system
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


Descent to a lower level or condition:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


[dɪˌdʒenəˈreɪʃən] Ndegeneración f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[dɪˌdʒɛnəˈreɪʃən] n (physical, mental) [person] → dégénérescence f; [thing] → dégénérescence f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nDegeneration f; (of people, morals also)Entartung f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[dɪˌdʒɛnəˈreɪʃn] ndegenerazione f
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


n. degeneración, deteriorización gradual.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


n degeneración f; age-related macular — degeneración macular senil
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The vocal folds may appear swollen, floppy, or polypoid; hence, alternative names such as polypoid corditis, polypoid degeneration, and edematous hypertrophy have been used to describe this process.
(2) Whatever the initial cause, if the stimulus persists, the resultant mucosal swelling and edema can lead to polypoid degeneration of the mucosa.
In LPR, vocal fold edema can range from mild to end-stage polypoid degeneration (figure 5).