- When you talk down to someone and insult him, this is an example of a time when you degrade the person.
- When a substance begins to rot, this is an example of a time when it degrades.
To degrade is defined as to treat someone with disrespect, to lower someone's rank, to make something not as good, or to break down or deteriorate.
transitive verb-·grad′ed, -·grad′ing
- to lower in rank or status, as in punishing; demote
- to lower or corrupt in quality, moral character, or value; debase
- to bring into dishonor or contempt
- Chem. to convert (an organic compound) into a simpler compound by removal of one or more parts of the molecule; decompose
- Geol. to lower (a land surface) by erosion
Origin of degradeMiddle English degraden from Old French degrader from Late Latin degradare, to reduce in rank from Classical Latin de-, down + gradus: see de- and grade
- Rare to sink to a lower grade or type
- to be converted into a simpler compound or compounds; decompose
verbde·grad·ed, de·grad·ing, de·grades
- To lower in quality or value; make inferior or less valuable: land that was degraded by overgrazing; a virus that degrades the computer's performance.
- To lower in dignity; dishonor or disgrace: seemed to feel that he was degrading himself in accepting the invitation. See Synonyms at debase.
- To reduce in grade, rank, or status; demote.
- Geology To lower or wear away by erosion or weathering.
- To cause (an organic compound) to undergo degradation.
- To fall to a lower rank or status.
- To undergo degradation; decompose: a chemical that degrades rapidly.
Origin of degradeMiddle English degraden from Old French degrader from Late Latin dēgradāre Latin dē- de- Latin gradus step ; see ghredh- in Indo-European roots.
degrade abase debase demean 2humble humiliate
These verbs mean to deprive of self-esteem or self-worth. Degrade implies reduction to a state of shame or disgrace: “If I pitied you for crying … you should spurn such pity᠁ Rise, and don't degrade yourself into an abject reptile!” (Emily Brontë). Abase refers principally to loss of rank or prestige: “Meg pardoned him, and Mrs. March's grave face relaxed . . . when she heard him declare that he would … abase himself like a worm before the injured damsel” (Louisa May Alcott). Debase implies reduction in quality or value: “debasing the moral currency” (George Eliot). Demean suggests lowering in social position: “It puts him where he can make the advances without demeaning himself” (William Dean Howells). Humble can refer to lowering in rank or, more often, to reducing in pride: dreamed of humbling his opponent. To humiliate is to subject to loss of self-respect or dignity: a defeat that humiliated both army and nation.See Also Synonyms at demote.
(third-person singular simple present degrades, present participle degrading, simple past and past participle degraded)
- To lower in value or social position.
- Fred degrades himself by his behaviour.
- (intransitive) To reduce in quality or purity.
- The DNA sample has degraded.
- (geology) To reduce in altitude or magnitude, as hills and mountains; to wear down.
From Middle French dégrader