- 1(With reference to a dead body or other organic matter) make or become rotten; decay or cause to decay: [no object]: leaves stuffed in plastic bags do not decompose (as adjective decomposed) the body was badly decomposed [with object]: dead plant matter can be completely decomposed by microorganismsMore example sentences
- The body begins to decompose soon after it is buried.
- It takes several weeks or longer, depending upon the size, for the body to completely decompose.
- ‘When a body decomposes in water, it becomes completely disfigured,’ he continues.
- 1.1(With reference to a chemical compound) break down or cause to break down into component elements or simpler constituents: [no object]: many chemicals decompose rapidly under high temperatureMore example sentences
- When heated, it decomposes into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide gas.
- Davy had developed a technique by which unusually stable compounds could be decomposed into their constituent elements.
- All dioxins are very stable and unlike most other chemicals do not quickly decompose or break down in the environment.
- More example sentences
- The problem of smells produced by food waste could be resolved by more frequent collection of decomposable waste during warm weather.
- We're saying there's this stuff deep in the ice, and that if it is thawed out, it is actually very decomposable.
- In this fashion, the problems that are decomposable into problems of bounded difficulty can be solved very efficiently (in sub-quadratic or quadratic time).
mid 18th century (in the sense 'separate into simpler constituents'): from French décomposer, from de- (expressing reversal) + composer.