Definition of decline in US English:



  • 1no object (typically of something regarded as good) become smaller, fewer, or less; decrease.

    ‘the birth rate continued to decline’
    • ‘Crop yields will decline, and droughts will grow more severe.’
    • ‘However, these gender differences declined with age and actually reversed around age 40.’
    • ‘Although tobacco consumption may be declining in the West, it continues to grow in emerging markets.’
    • ‘Union membership is continuing to decline and has already dropped to its 1912 level.’
    • ‘Unemployment may be falling but remains high and the city population continues to decline but there is at last an unmistakeable air of optimism in the city and a belief that a revival is underway.’
    • ‘In Los Angeles, San Francisco and Alameda counties, voter participation declined by an aggregate of 12 percent.’
    • ‘A new report by the government's offshore pollution experts reveals that levels of sulphur pollution have hardly declined along the west coast of Britain over the past 15 years.’
    • ‘Britain's current aid commitment is 0.31 percent of GNP and aid as a whole from the West has steadily declined over the last decade.’
    • ‘Brewers also found 2003 a bitter year as sales of beer and stout continued to decline from the peak levels of 1999 and 2000.’
    • ‘African lion populations have greatly declined in West Africa and in many African countries they are restricted to protected areas.’
    • ‘In the developed world, birth rates have been declining steadily for the past two decades.’
    • ‘This directly contradicts Robinson's assertion that policing costs would decline after such a move.’
    • ‘Tourism in the area declined sharply after 1992.’
    • ‘The number of manufacturing jobs will continue to decline, but more service jobs will be created this year than during 2001.’
    • ‘The Yorkshire Museum of Farming, at Murton, near York, saw visitor numbers decline after animals had to be temporarily moved because of foot and mouth.’
    • ‘Although farm incomes continued to decline in 2002, the low cost of borrowing did much to save off the threat of closure for those struggling with a high level of debt.’
    • ‘Although industry experienced modest gains, the region's population continued to decline throughout the last decade.’
    • ‘Both national and community studies have shown that physical activity decreases after early adulthood and continues to decline after age 50.’
    • ‘However, the singles market continued to decline, with a drop of nearly 30 per cent on overall sales.’
    • ‘Housing prices in general continued to decline in April, with a drop of 7.1 per cent.’
    decrease, reduce, get smaller, grow smaller, lessen, get less, diminish, wane, dwindle, contract, shrink, fall off, taper off, tail off, peter out
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Diminish in strength or quality; deteriorate.
      ‘her health began to decline’
      • ‘The board's passive response to declining performance may stem from deference to a much-admired leader.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the city's infrastructure continues to decline.’
      • ‘But he adds that English is declining less rapidly than some other languages, like Italian.’
      • ‘The quality was declining - with too many copycat programmes and not enough new, challenging TV.’
      • ‘If there was evidence of Monty's performance declining, his mental strength appeared to be holding up well.’
      • ‘We made people financially better off, but money isn't everything and in other ways, the quality of their lives declined.’
      • ‘One of the main factors influencing the outcome of IVF treatment is the age of the woman whose eggs are used, as the quality of the eggs declines as the woman gets older.’
      • ‘And the education they get is declining in quality.’
      • ‘Her health has declined since this struggle began.’
      • ‘With declining renal function, doses of certain medications and antibiotics should be decreased to avoid toxic buildup.’
      • ‘Those who climb into their cars at six in the morning to commute to Dublin know full well that their quality of life has declined.’
      • ‘The report said the quality of the educational provision and standards pupils achieve have declined significantly since its last inspection.’
      • ‘Child care in Sweden is considered to be of high quality, but due to budget cuts year after year the quality has declined.’
      • ‘Although these diseases seldom occurred in an acute form in Europe, standards of health declined.’
      • ‘The street started to decline about five years ago when police had to move one innocent family out after they had been intimidated and criminal damage had been caused to their home.’
      • ‘He had experienced more than one period of hospitalisation during the past year, and in recent months his health began to decline in a way that was of concern to family and friends.’
      • ‘Without it, York city centre would simply continue to decline, said John Steel QC, counsel for City of York Council.’
      • ‘In recent years, his health began to decline but his serene and tranquil nature never deserted him.’
      • ‘As in so many other parts of the former Soviet Union, health standards are declining.’
      • ‘So the title of your book is interesting because we hear a lot about educational standards declining because of fewer students excelling in sciences and math.’
      • ‘According to Hollywood producers and directors, the quality of film has declined in the past 20 years.’
      • ‘If we let our public transport system, including our rail, continue to decline, then transport issues will become much more serious for those on low incomes, and even middle income.’
      • ‘But this has been at the expense of the working class and significant sections of the middle class whose living standards have stagnated and declined.’
      • ‘Over the past 30 years, water quality has declined in rivers and lakes all over Ireland, with the excessive input of nutrients being established as the main cause of the decline.’
      • ‘It adds that many objectors do not live in the town, or have moved there since the ports declined and so have no knowledge of how Harwich used to prosper.’
      • ‘As Rome's strength declined, the country again was exposed to invasion.’
      deteriorate, degenerate, decay, crumble, collapse, fail, fall, sink, slump, slip, slide, go downhill, worsen, get worse, go to rack and ruin, stagnate, atrophy, wither, weaken, fade, fade away, wane, ebb
      View synonyms
  • 2with object Politely refuse (an invitation or offer)

    ‘Caroline declined the coffee’
    • ‘A waiter approached them with glasses of champagne but both of them declined politely.’
    • ‘I politely declined her invitation and excused myself, lying and saying that I, also, had other plans.’
    • ‘Needless to say, I politely declined their invitations.’
    • ‘Once out of there, they walked around, just glancing around in the stores, occasionally, Jason would ask Sarah if she wanted anything but she politely declined the offer.’
    • ‘Both Mr Myers and Ms Kennedy declined several invitations to comment on radio yesterday.’
    • ‘They made their way back to their cars, after declining many offers of cups of tea and cake.’
    • ‘‘No thanks, I think I've had enough,’ I replied, declining the offer.’
    • ‘If the council declines the offer, the land will be sold off.’
    • ‘After declining his first invitation for a date, she thought, ‘he's going abroad anyway, so why don't I go out with him?’’
    • ‘We'd even asked Tony if he'd like to move in with us, but he'd politely declined the offer.’
    • ‘Robert offers to walk her over, but she declines his invitation.’
    • ‘The company has declined our invitations to comment on the concerns raised by some of their customers.’
    • ‘So as you can see I'll have to respectfully decline your invitation.’
    • ‘The USI president said earlier studies had shown that 10% of students who declined a college offer did so because of financial concerns.’
    • ‘He declined my offer of coffee and left without as much as giving me a reason why he didn't want to stay.’
    • ‘A company spokesman declined an invitation to comment about the issue of car parking at the public house.’
    • ‘She declined their offer, walked away and later passed the registration number of their car to police.’
    • ‘Toby sat beside Kate and offered her some of his candy bar, but she smiled and declined politely.’
    • ‘We chatted for a while, and I politely declined his offer of a drink in the pub after work.’
    • ‘We sat on the stoop until nearly two in the morning before the coroner's van came to pick up Eric; the cop stayed in the living room, respectfully declining offers of iced tea.’
    turn down, reject, brush aside, refuse, rebuff, spurn, disdain, look down one's nose at, repulse, repudiate, dismiss, forgo, deny oneself, pass up, refuse to take advantage of, turn one's back on
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    1. 2.1with infinitive Politely refuse to do something.
      ‘the company declined to comment’
      • ‘A spokesman refused to comment further and declined to make executives available for interviews.’
      • ‘She politely declined to reflect on her forty-year career, saying only that it had gone by so fast that she had never stopped to think about it.’
      • ‘The West Yorkshire force declined to discuss the significance of the discovery.’
      • ‘He politely declined to discuss who their advertisers are and referred me on to corporate headquarters.’
      • ‘Edinburgh and West Lothian councils declined to provide up-to-date figures for average class sizes.’
      • ‘Sun declined to provide specific details on what areas were affected or exactly how many cuts were made but did confirm some lay-offs.’
      • ‘Yesterday the Blakes, who looked after Dylan for four years before he moved to Chicago, declined to comment on this latest twist.’
      • ‘He declined to speculate about the possible impact such changes might have on staffing.’
      • ‘The sampling process yielded five families, and only one family that was approached declined to participate.’
      • ‘A health board spokesperson declined to give details about the man, but said he is receiving medical attention.’
      • ‘A movie spokesman declined to disclose how much they cost to manufacture.’
      • ‘He continues to decline to respond to the widespread criticisms but when they were initially made, in 2001, he said he was ‘surprised and saddened’.’
      • ‘Via his secretary, Justice Holmes politely declined to take any role in the controversy.’
      • ‘Ever true to her love, she remains behind in Sanhetun with him, declining to move to the city with Yusheng at his invitation.’
      • ‘The number of repeat calls by customers to resolve an issue has also decreased, although he declined to say by how much.’
      • ‘Most agents who represent top stars decline even to discuss a project, much less read it, unless a firm offer is placed on the table.’
      • ‘Snow did not explain his move then and declined to explain it now.’
      • ‘When I called your Milwaukee headquarters, your top spokesperson politely declined to comment.’
      • ‘A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence declined to confirm or deny the pending move.’
      • ‘Yet West Yorkshire Police have declined to launch any prosecutions, despite receiving several complaints.’
  • 3no object (especially of the sun) move downward.

    • ‘We have designed the extension to capture the last scraps of sun as it declines behind the hill in the early evening.’
    go down, sink, descend, drop, subside
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    1. 3.1archaic Bend down; droop.
      • ‘Declining from his sitting position…[he] stretched himself…among the daisies.’
  • 4with object (in the grammar of Latin, Greek, and certain other languages) state the forms of (a noun, pronoun, or adjective) corresponding to cases, number, and gender.

    • ‘It's a long time since I had to decline amo, amas, amat in my school Latin classes.’
    • ‘Those who declined it correctly went into Form 3.’
    • ‘The girls would happily sit for hours on end in his study declining Greek nouns and reading political philosophy.’
    • ‘Lyly declined English nouns as if they were Latin.’
    • ‘Reminder: you decline the verb to be as follows: I am, You are, He/she/it is, We are, You are, They are.’


  • 1A gradual and continuous loss of strength, numbers, quality, or value.

    ‘a serious decline in bird numbers’
    ‘a civilization in decline’
    • ‘If the housing market goes into decline we may, if we remain determined to move, be forced to reduced our asking price.’
    • ‘Hawks were clearly on the decline in the eastern United States, and their persecution seemed to be increasing.’
    • ‘They told how the firm had suffered significant losses following a decline in new business over recent months and that there was little sign of improvement in the future.’
    • ‘A drop in fundraising will produce a further decline in educational quality.’
    • ‘Guinness drinking is on the decline in Ireland, with volume sales falling by an annual rate of about 3 per cent over the past four years.’
    • ‘The two decades before 1995 had been a period of almost continuous economic decline in sub-Saharan Africa.’
    • ‘A survey of UK clinics carried out by the authority earlier this year found that 62% of clinics predicted that the move would lead to a further decline in donations.’
    • ‘With the collapse of the Venetian Republic in 1797, the Murano glassworks fell into decline.’
    • ‘But no one mentioned the impact of drug abuse or drug treatment on the decline in sexual interest and potency.’
    • ‘A few workshops produce domestic cloth such as woolen blankets and covers, but this type of weaving is on the decline in the face of cheap, factory-made goods.’
    • ‘The production side of the economy has seen a continuous decline in British manufacturing, with a loss of 1 million jobs since Labour came to power in 1997.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, populations of both birds have been in decline for decades.’
    • ‘Amateur boxing is on the decline in Europe and America.’
    • ‘Dan, a mechanic for 16 years at Northwest, commented on the decline in safety conditions at the airline, before and during the strike.’
    • ‘Similarly, it argues that businesses surveyed place it only fifth on a list of factors impacting trade, beneath wider economic factors, the decline in tourism and seasonal influences.’
    • ‘History showed the British Empire's decline and fall, unable to compete with the strain of global war and the rise of political and economic power elsewhere.’
    • ‘The latest figures show a steady decline in the number of youngsters vaccinated from nearly 90 per cent in 1997.’
    • ‘Suburbanization and a decline in manufacturing caused economic problems and population losses through much of the twentieth century.’
    • ‘By the first century BC, Greece had fallen into decline, lost its outlying territories, and been assimilated into the Roman Empire.’
    • ‘He attributes most of these losses to a decline in high yield business travel.’
    reduction, decrease, downturn, downswing, lowering, devaluation, depreciation, lessening, diminishing, diminution, slackening, waning, dwindling, fading, ebb, falling off, abatement, drop, slump, plunge, tumble
    deterioration, degeneration, degradation, shrinkage, shrinking, withering, atrophy, weakening, enfeeblement, fall, failure, death, decay, decaying
    waning, declining, on the decline, decaying, crumbling, collapsing, atrophying, failing, disappearing, dying, moribund, past its prime, obsolescent
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic The gradual setting of the sun.
    2. 1.2archaic Any disease in which bodily strength gradually fails, especially tuberculosis.


Late Middle English: from Old French decliner, from Latin declinare ‘bend down, turn aside’, from de- ‘down’ + clinare ‘to bend’.