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degenerate Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a person whose behavior deviates from what is acceptable especially in sexual behavior
    pervert; deviate; deviant.
  2. verb grow worse
    drop; devolve; deteriorate.
    • Her condition deteriorated
    • Conditions in the slums degenerated
    • The discussion devolved into a shouting match
  3. adjective satellite unrestrained by convention or morality
    debauched; libertine; dissolute; fast; degraded; dissipated; riotous; profligate.
    • Congreve draws a debauched aristocratic society
    • deplorably dissipated and degraded
    • riotous living
    • fast women

De*gen"er*ate adjective
L. degeneratus, p. p. of degenerare to degenerate, cause to degenerate, fr. degener base, degenerate, that departs from its race or kind; de- + genus race, kind. See Kin relationship.
  1. Having become worse than one's kind, or one's former state; having declined in worth; having lost in goodness; deteriorated; degraded; unworthy; base; low.
    Faint-hearted and degenerate king. Shak.
    A degenerate and degraded state. Milton.
    Degenerate from their ancient blood. Swift.
    These degenerate days. Pope.
    I had planted thee a noble vine . . . : how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? Jer. ii. 21.
De*gen"er*ate intransitive verb
imperfect & past participle Degenerated; present participle & verbal noun Degenerating
  1. To be or grow worse than one's kind, or than one was originally; hence, to be inferior; to grow poorer, meaner, or more vicious; to decline in good qualities; to deteriorate.
    When wit transgresseth decency, it degenerates into insolence and impiety. Tillotson.
  2. (Biol.) To fall off from the normal quality or the healthy structure of its kind; to become of a lower type.

Webster 1913