Definition of degenerate in English:



  • 1Having lost the physical, mental, or moral qualities considered normal and desirable; showing evidence of decline.

    ‘a degenerate form of a higher civilization’
    • ‘The adult characters are weak, degenerate people, and the junior partners descend into the mire with terrifying speed and realism.’
    • ‘Today I spent most of my time programming, or scripting (which is a degenerate form, I suppose,) which is not usually what I do.’
    • ‘Their message about humanity is even more degenerate and degraded than that spouted by the previous administration.’
    • ‘He broke his silence: ‘You know, if word gets around that you saw me here, it'll ruin my reputation as a degenerate junkie.’’
    • ‘The debtors have owed the creditors £50 million for years but believed, with a Christian trust rare in these degenerate days, that they had been forgiven the debt.’
    • ‘A group of people - some of whom are reading this review - that find themselves on the wet end of a degenerate culture.’
    • ‘I am shamed over the disgrace imposed upon us by a degenerate murderer.’
    • ‘What kind of degenerate slimeball would knowingly infect his own people with a known carcinogen?’
    • ‘No society's moral vision has ever, surely, been more degenerate than that.’
    • ‘Nor is it good to offer women to butter-bellied Falstaff, too ugly and degenerate to be desirable.’
    • ‘There are theories about the cosmos, theories about degenerate beings, karma and all sorts of other issues.’
    • ‘For him, adultery is considered a degenerate act, yet so is divorce.’
    • ‘The exhibitors tried as much as possible to portray a degenerate image of the conquered peoples of Africa in order to justify their own imperialist adventures.’
    • ‘It is not surprising that knowledge of one's own mental state should turn out to be a limiting or degenerate case of knowledge.’
    • ‘After being injected with a truth serum, Catherine tells the story of her partner's death that features a central character more degenerate than decent.’
    • ‘Although Trotsky considered the Soviet Union as a degenerate worker's state, it was far from it.’
    • ‘Could you be a more horrible, degenerate monster?’
    • ‘The main forms of corruption in the eyes of the locals are bribe-taking, a degenerate life-style and unreasonable fines inflicted on locals.’
    • ‘For him they were very real and very degenerate.’
    • ‘The psychologist also put forward an alternative theory that the killer could be fixated on ‘cleaning up what he sees as degenerate people’.’
    debased, degraded, corrupt, corrupted, vitiated, bastard, impure
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  • 2technical Lacking some usual or expected property or quality, in particular.

    corrupt, decadent, dissolute, dissipated, debauched, rakish, reprobate, profligate, depraved, perverted, despicable, base, vice-ridden, wicked, sinful, ungodly
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    1. 2.1Mathematics (of a type of equation, curve, etc.) equivalent to a simpler type, especially when a variable or parameter is set to zero.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If the planes pass through the vertex of the cone, the conics are said to be degenerate, otherwise they are not.’
      • ‘There was another parallelogram - a smallish and a degenerate one - that is often omitted in reproductions.’
      • ‘At x 5 = 1 we obtain the degenerate symmetric case of a triangle traversed twice.’
      • ‘This point is labelled A 3b, to emphasize that it is a degenerate quadrilateral.’
    2. 2.2Physics (of an energy level) corresponding to more than one quantum state.
      • ‘For example, the p orbital has three possible angular momentum quantum states that are degenerate (of the same energy) under normal circumstances.’
      • ‘A set of degenerate states constitutes an energy level.’
      • ‘We say that the excited state is degenerate, i.e., there are three sets of quantum numbers which give the same energy.’
      • ‘Energetic frustration arises from the presence of competing interactions, which are degenerate in energy.’
      • ‘The trick is to take advantage of degenerate states where quantum energy fluctuations are absent.’
    3. 2.3Physics (of 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.
      • ‘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 is called the degeneracy pressure.’
      • ‘The collapsed core will become a white dwarf, composed of degenerate matter supported by the inability of two electrons to occupy the same space.’
      • ‘Atoms that are compressed into this minimum volume are said to be in a degenerate state.’
    4. 2.4Biology Having reverted to a simpler form as a result of losing a complex or adaptive structure present in the ancestral form.
      ‘degenerate offshoots from the main line of vertebrate progress’
      • ‘A partly degenerate consensus sequence was created from the Aspergillus and Penicillium sequences to evaluate the statistical significance of this alignment.’
      • ‘Y chromosomes are genetically degenerate in most organisms studied.’
      • ‘Therefore, under our conditions, we may not detect up to 13.4% degenerate copies of this repetitive DNA motif in the mitochondrial genome.’
      • ‘The coding sequences of most characterized plant retroelements are highly degenerate and are cluttered with stop codons, frameshifts, and deletions.’
      • ‘This region was found to consist of degenerate heptanucleotide repeats that fold into a hairpin structure allowing base pairing of the repeats.’


  • An immoral or corrupt person.

    ‘get out of my house, you degenerate!’
    • ‘What kind of a psychopathic degenerate would do it?’
    • ‘Long aware that he was a Machiavellian degenerate, the University dismissed him and suggested he leave the country.’
    • ‘As an atheist I'm getting sick of the fanaticism of these degenerates.’
    • ‘But while they helped launch a revolution that has reshaped much of society, cross-dressers still wait for the day when they will no longer be dismissed as freaks and degenerates.’
    • ‘The general consensus of outsiders is that the town is a place of degenerates.’
    • ‘This is because they are degenerates, and likely violent.’
    • ‘We are smarter than to put you social degenerates in power.’
    • ‘The city has become a magnet for degenerates of all kind.’
    • ‘These articles portrayed the band as obscene perverts and degenerates.’
    • ‘I think the most important thing is not to tell the youngsters that they are degenerates if they listen to pop folk, but instil in them the importance of our culture and traditions.’
    • ‘This will remove control of the cannabis industry from criminal degenerates - but it will create serious public health issues that the government had better be ready to deal with.’
    • ‘He becomes a total degenerate, as did Faust, and, like Faust, he has sold his soul and is shocked when it comes time for him to die and he is condemned rather than exalted.’
    • ‘On my demanding table, comprising 10 degenerates and one discerning aesthete, virtually everybody was going for mussels followed by venison with roasted root vegetables.’
    • ‘Let the nation cleanse itself of its degenerates, its traitors, its thugs.’
    • ‘In the end, what really happened was a bunch of degenerates who loved being lazy began working so hard that they had to start making plans for so-called careers in the music business.’
    • ‘When all you do is have big fun, you usually turn into a degenerate.’
    • ‘‘If we do not take action to overcome the obstacles that confront us, only one word can be used to describe those working in the field: degenerates,’ he wrote.’
    • ‘While the hobos, degenerates and backpackers passed by (you need a keen eye to tell the difference), we chatted for a while about this and that.’
    reprobate, debauchee, rake, profligate, libertine, roué, loose-liver
    pervert, deviant, deviate
    retrograde, dissolute
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  • Decline or deteriorate physically, mentally, or morally.

    ‘the quality of life had degenerated’
    ‘the debate degenerated into a brawl’
    • ‘As a result, innovation has degenerated into developing new electoral tactics.’
    • ‘While he continues to place obstacles in the path of negotiations, the situation on the ground is degenerating.’
    • ‘Now, usually, people with rational views of the world are able to prevent policy from degenerating into such suicidally savage behavior.’
    • ‘The bone system could have degenerated and a similar degeneration in the neck bones can cause unsteadiness and giddiness.’
    • ‘Once there were beliefs, these degenerated into ideas, then into ideologies.’
    • ‘Our capital city is slowly degenerating into a gangland.’
    • ‘There was a time that I found your comments amusing, however recently you have degenerated into farce and hypocrisy.’
    • ‘Mentally, he probably degenerated to the point where his main concerns are the basic human instincts.’
    • ‘His skeletal frame has degenerated to that of a 70 year old.’
    • ‘From there, the interview degenerated, and I wasn't surprised when I wasn't offered the job.’
    • ‘The second period degenerated to bad tempered aggression with a referee reluctant to impose adequate discipline.’
    • ‘Elections have degenerated into a choice between two evils, and your only option is the lesser evil.’
    • ‘Certainly as this drama deepens, each character bypasses normal human interaction degenerating into deviant behavior.’
    • ‘Their protest degenerated into an ugly scene where they traded blows with council workers who were supposed to collect the levy.’
    • ‘These last few comments are degenerating into a mob attack on a young designer.’
    • ‘They'll have to agree to disagree: I don't want my comments section degenerating into a snarling fist-fight again.’
    • ‘Sense is inevitably degenerating into nonsense, like a pileup of random mutations in an endangered species gasping its last breaths.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the past, anti-corruption drives sometimes degenerated into, or masked, power struggles.’
    • ‘So is it also true that our ability to appreciate and make a perceptive assessment has also degenerated?’
    deteriorate, decline, sink, slip, slide, worsen, get worse, grow worse, take a turn for the worse, lapse, fail, fall off, slump, go downhill, regress, retrogress
    waste away, waste, atrophy, weaken, become debilitated
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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.