Definition of degenerate in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈjen(ə)rət/
1Having lost the physical, mental, or moral qualities considered normal and desirable; showing evidence of decline: a degenerate form of a higher civilization
More example sentences
  • Nor is it good to offer women to butter-bellied Falstaff, too ugly and degenerate to be desirable.
  • Their message about humanity is even more degenerate and degraded than that spouted by the previous administration.
  • No society's moral vision has ever, surely, been more degenerate than that.
debased, degraded, corrupt, impure
formal vitiated
2 technical Lacking some property, order, or distinctness of structure previously or usually present, in particular.
corrupt, decadent, dissolute, dissipated, debauched, reprobate, profligate;
sinful, ungodly, immoral, unprincipled, amoral, dishonorable, disreputable, unsavory, sordid, low, ignoble
2.1 Mathematics Relating to or denoting an example of a particular type of equation, curve, or other entity that is equivalent to a simpler type, often occurring when a variable or parameter is set to zero.
Example sentences
  • If the planes pass through the vertex of the cone, the conics are said to be degenerate, otherwise they are not.
  • Joining the four points in pairs by lines gives six lines; pairing the six lines in three pairs so that each pair passes through all four points yields the three degenerate conies.
  • This point is labelled A 3b, to emphasize that it is a degenerate quadrilateral.
2.2 Physics Relating to or denoting an energy level that corresponds to more than one quantum state.
Example sentences
  • A set of degenerate states constitutes an energy level.
  • For example, the p orbital has three possible angular momentum quantum states that are degenerate (of the same energy) under normal circumstances.
  • Energetic frustration arises from the presence of competing interactions, which are degenerate in energy.
2.3 Physics Relating to or denoting matter at densities so high that gravitational contraction is counteracted either by the Pauli exclusion principle or by an analogous quantum effect between closely packed neutrons.
Example sentences
  • The collapsed core will become a white dwarf, composed of degenerate matter supported by the inability of two electrons to occupy the same space.
  • The pressure due to the ions can then be treated as an ideal gas, but the pressure due to the degenerate electrons is much larger and hence the gas obeys a different equation of state.
  • The pressure maintained by a body of degenerate matter</m> is called the degeneracy pressure.
2.4 Biology Having reverted to a simpler form as a result of losing a complex or adaptive structure present in the ancestral form.
Example sentences
  • Y chromosomes are genetically degenerate in most organisms studied.
  • The coding sequences of most characterized plant retroelements are highly degenerate and are cluttered with stop codons, frameshifts, and deletions.
  • A partly degenerate consensus sequence was created from the Aspergillus and Penicillium sequences to evaluate the statistical significance of this alignment.


Pronunciation: /dəˈjen(ə)rət/
An immoral or corrupt person.
Example sentences
  • Let the nation cleanse itself of its degenerates, its traitors, its thugs.
  • These articles portrayed the band as obscene perverts and degenerates.
  • What kind of a psychopathic degenerate would do it?
reprobate, debauchee, profligate, libertine, roué


Pronunciation: /dəˈjenəˌrāt/
[no object]
Decline or deteriorate physically, mentally, or morally: the quality of life had degenerated the debate degenerated into a brawl
More example sentences
  • Mentally, he probably degenerated to the point where his main concerns are the basic human instincts.
  • As a result, innovation has degenerated into developing new electoral tactics.
  • Civility is an essential virtue in a free society, for without it, both free market capitalism and liberal democracy risk degenerating into anarchy or repression.
deteriorate, decline, slip, slide, worsen, lapse, slump, go downhill, regress, retrogress;
go to rack and ruin
informal go to pot, go to the dogs, hit the skids, go into/down the toilet
waste (away), atrophy, weaken



Pronunciation: /-ritlē/
Example sentences
  • This exploration of the trash of the 20th century proposes a more underground and degenerately perverse origin and use of the medium.
  • He plasters himself all over the guilty pleasures in which he so degenerately indulges.
  • Specifically, electron scattering and transport models are developed for the degenerately doped conditions necessary for very-high-frequency diode operation.


Late 15th century: from Latin degeneratus 'no longer of its kind', from the verb degenerare, from degener 'debased', from de- 'away from' + genus, gener- 'race, kind'.

  • gender from Late Middle English:

    The words gender and engender (Middle English) go back via Old French to Latin genus ‘birth, family, nation’, a word that was reborrowed in the early 17th century for scientific classification, although it had been in use 50 years earlier in logic. In modern French the ‘d’ was lost to produce genre, a word reborrowed in the early 19th century. Generation (Middle English), generate (early 16th century), engender (Middle English), generosity (Late Middle English), genial (mid 16th century), and degenerate (Late Middle English) are all from the same source.

Words that rhyme with degenerate


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·gen·er·ate

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