Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Decomposition of organic matter, especially protein, by microorganisms, resulting in production of foul-smelling matter.
  • n. Putrefied matter.
  • n. The condition of being putrefied.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the act of causing to rot; the anaerobic splitting of proteins by bacteria and fungi with the formation of malodorous, incompletely oxidized products
  • n. rotted material
  • n. the state of being rotted

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act or the process of putrefying; the offensive decay of albuminous or other matter.
  • n. The condition of being putrefied; also, that which putrefied.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act or process of putrefying; the decomposition of animal and vegetable substances, attended by the evolution of fetid gases.
  • n. Putrefied matter.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. moral perversion; impairment of virtue and moral principles
  • n. a state of decay usually accompanied by an offensive odor
  • n. (biology) the process of decay caused by bacterial or fungal action

Etymologies

Middle English putrefaccioun, from Late Latin putrefactiō, putrefactiōn-, from putrefactus, past participle of Latin putrefacere, to make rotten; see putrefy.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Coined between 1350 and 1400 from Middle English putrefaccioun, from Latin putrefactiō, from putrefactus, perfect passive participle of putrefaciō ("become rotten") (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Holmes used this word when he and Watson were investigating the death of Irene's dwarf client.

    June 13, 2012