Definition of atrophy in English:



  • 1(of body tissue or an organ) waste away, especially as a result of the degeneration of cells, or become vestigial during evolution.

    ‘the calf muscles will atrophy’
    ‘in some beetles, the hindwings are atrophied’
    • ‘Even after the original injury has healed, patients may still be in pain or very susceptible because their muscles have atrophied and there's nothing protecting them from sprains and strains.’
    • ‘Extended periods in low or zero gravity take their toll on the human body: bones begin to decalcify as they experience less stress, and muscles atrophy, also as a result of disuse.’
    • ‘In 1939 he underwent surgery for a brain tumour and emerged with one side of his face paralysed, his tongue atrophied and his behaviour even more erratic.’
    • ‘‘As with any organic being after death, tissues will decompose and the body will atrophy, making actual measurements change over time,’ Holyoak said.’
    • ‘Her muscles had atrophied in her hindquarters giving her front half a bulky football player look.’
    • ‘I watched my hard-earned muscles atrophy and I knew my cardiovascular endurance was diminishing every day Although I felt depressed and frustrated, I knew I was lucky to be alive.’
    • ‘The retinal pigment membrane cells slowly degenerate and atrophy, and central vision is lost.’
    • ‘As the body ages, muscles begin to atrophy, slowly being replaced by fat.’
    • ‘Computed tomography scans showed that her cerebral hemispheres had atrophied, and electroencephalograms showed that she was without any cortical activity.’
    • ‘The cells gradually degenerate over a period of time and cause paralysis as muscles atrophy throughout the body.’
    • ‘Creatine has also been tested with positive results in those whose muscles have atrophied due to neuromuscular diseases.’
    • ‘The brain actually atrophies when it isn't stimulated enough.’
    • ‘In space, the blood itself becomes weightless, and the heart will eventually atrophy because it has to work less to pump blood through the body.’
    • ‘Her muscles haven't atrophied at all, and according to all data, she's in perfect health.’
    • ‘In addition, your muscles might atrophy and you could have trouble walking.’
    • ‘The main goal is for him to regain strength in his shoulder, back and upper arm because the muscles could atrophy from non-use.’
    • ‘Just like other muscles, the brain atrophies if not used.’
    • ‘The gland then atrophies if it doesn't rot away.’
    • ‘As a result, muscles become atrophied, or wasted.’
    • ‘Listen, Lorus, his body has atrophied to the point where he can't move.’
    waste away, waste, become emaciated, wither, shrivel, shrivel up, shrink, become shrunken, dry up, decay, wilt
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  • 2Gradually decline in effectiveness or vigour due to underuse or neglect.

    ‘the imagination can atrophy from lack of use’
    • ‘It is difficult to envision how this inflationary boom can run smoothly for a sector so atrophied after years of neglect.’
    • ‘There would be a flurry of coding and decoding activity in time of war, but with the coming of peace, cryptographic knowledge and skills would atrophy and have to be relearned again at the next outbreak of hostilities.’
    • ‘Whatever hitting skills these transient players once had are now atrophied from disuse.’
    • ‘Contrast that reality with the medical profession, say, whose practitioners would soon find themselves uninsurable were they to permit their professional knowledge and skills to atrophy.’
    • ‘The obvious concern with a decline in reading is that such a trend causes critical thinking skills and one's imagination to atrophy.’
    • ‘I haven't done anything except costumes for so long that my imagination in that area is atrophied.’
    • ‘But unless we allow our imaginations to become completely atrophied, we will be influenced by both secular art and the base obscenities that are prevalent in our society.’
    • ‘Perhaps a radical change of pace is exactly the stimulus this brilliant musician needs to help him realize his full artistic potential before it atrophies altogether.’
    • ‘As the long-term unemployed lose touch with the labour market, their self-esteem falls and their job skills atrophy.’
    • ‘The sciences atrophied during the post-World War I industrial decline.’
    • ‘Command and control involves perishable skills that atrophy in the absence of training.’
    • ‘Cabinet government of the traditional model has manifestly atrophied over the past seven years, by deliberate neglect, not accident.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly, the social skills of children atrophy when they watch television instead of playing.’
    • ‘There's no telling how much further my language skills will atrophy.’
    • ‘For creativity is a muscle that must be worked or it will gradually atrophy and wither.’
    • ‘One consequence of this development is that their imaginations are beginning to atrophy: play is all about the destination, rather than the journey.’
    • ‘‘Mainframe skills have been atrophying in the U.S.,’ he says.’
    • ‘It has been a very busy couple of months and unfortunately this blog has rather atrophied from lack of time and input.’
    • ‘With everyone's imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.’
    • ‘He says, ‘We have undermined the purpose of the United Nations and caused its effectiveness to atrophy.’’
    • ‘The meeting would have gone well but being a blogger and spending most of my free time online, my social skills have atrophied to the point where I can now barely manage to get served in shops.’
    peter out, taper off, tail off, dwindle, deteriorate, decline, wane, fade, fade away, fade out, give in, give up, give way, crumble, disintegrate, collapse, slump, go downhill, draw to a close, subside
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  • [mass noun] The process of atrophying or state of having atrophied.

    ‘gastric atrophy’
    ‘extensive TV viewing may lead to atrophy of children's imaginations’
    • ‘This is also called optic atrophy, and may be present at birth or may appear because of a condition such as diabetes.’
    • ‘Mucosal atrophy may result when dietary sources of fatty acids are lacking or when the fecal stream is diverted by an ileostomy or colostomy.’
    • ‘Decreased grip strength may result in loss of dexterity, and thenar muscle atrophy may develop if the syndrome is severe.’
    • ‘Muscles deteriorate in microgravity conditions; significant muscle atrophy has been seen in humans after only five days in space.’
    • ‘Repair within three weeks of injury is recommended to avoid tendon retraction, reinjury, tendon degeneration and muscle atrophy.’
    • ‘Coeliac disease is characterised histologically by total or subtotal villous atrophy.’
    • ‘MRI reveals relative atrophy of the frontal lobes and the anterior temporal lobes.’
    • ‘MRI revealed temporal lobe atrophy in two patients presenting with dementia.’
    • ‘It usually presents with pain and muscle weakness with atrophy in the shoulder girdle.’
    • ‘Spinal muscular atrophy is a degenerative condition which is untreatable.’
    • ‘Polio, a disease that attacks the nervous system, usually infects young children resulting in paralysis and muscular atrophy.’
    • ‘Researchers administered cognitive function tests to 3,734 men, obtained brain images from 574 men, and evaluated brain atrophy in 290 male autopsy results.’
    • ‘Physical therapy is directed at preventing atrophy and contractures, and is particularly necessary in patients with calcinosis and muscle involvement.’
    • ‘This loss occurs because of quadricep inhibition, which then leads to muscle atrophy.’
    • ‘It has been theorized that changes in everyday experiences and activity patterns may result in disuse and consequent atrophy of cognitive processes and skills.’
    • ‘During the immobilization of a fracture, all nonimmobilized parts must be moved to avoid stiffness, muscle atrophy and joint contractures.’
    • ‘Evaluation of the wrist should begin with identifying erythema, swelling, masses, skin lesions, muscle atrophy, contractures, scars, or other obvious deformities.’
    • ‘Lack of gravitational forces leads to muscle atrophy, decreased muscle tone and strength, and neuromuscular changes (eg, fatigue, slowed tendon reflexes).’
    • ‘Because of atrophy, cervical stenosis, or other conditions, obtaining satisfactory cervical samples from older women may be difficult.’
    • ‘The pelvic examination should include an evaluation for inflammation, infection and atrophy.’
    • ‘Potential complications associated with long-term steroid use are atrophy, steroid-induced acne, rosacea, and striae.’
    • ‘Patients who are overweight often suffer from muscle atrophy caused by inactivity, which worsens back symptoms and problems.’
    wasting, wasting away, emaciation, withering, shrivelling, shrivelling up, shrinking, drying up, wilting, decaying, decay
    declining, deteriorating, deterioration, degenerating, degeneration, weakening, debilitation, enfeeblement
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Late 16th century: from French atrophier (verb), atrophie (noun), from late Latin atrophia, from Greek, lack of food, from a- without + trophē food.