verb (used with object), de·grad·ed, de·grad·ing.

  1. to lower in dignity or estimation; bring into contempt: He felt they were degrading him by making him report to the supervisor.
  2. to lower in character or quality; debase.
  3. to reduce (someone) to a lower rank, degree, etc.; deprive of office, rank, status, or title, especially as a punishment: degraded from director to assistant director.
  4. to reduce in amount, strength, intensity, etc.
  5. Physical Geography. to wear down by erosion, as hills.Compare aggrade.
  6. Chemistry. to break down (a compound, especially an organic hydrocarbon).

verb (used without object), de·grad·ed, de·grad·ing.

  1. to become degraded; weaken or worsen; deteriorate.
  2. Chemistry. (especially of an organic hydrocarbon compound) to break down or decompose.


  1. (tr) to reduce in worth, character, etc; disgrace; dishonour
  2. (diːˈɡreɪd) (tr) to reduce in rank, status, or degree; remove from office; demote
  3. (tr) to reduce in strength, quality, intensity, etc
  4. to reduce or be reduced by erosion or down-cutting, as a land surface or bed of a riverCompare aggrade
  5. chem to decompose or be decomposed into atoms or smaller molecules

late 14c., from Old French degrader (12c.) “degrade, deprive (of office, rank, etc.),” from des- “down” (see dis-) + Latin gradus “step” (see grade (n.)). Related: Degraded; degrading.

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