Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun In certain languages, the inflection of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives with respect to categories such as case, number, and gender.
  • noun A class of words of one language with the same or a similar system of inflections, such as the first declension in Latin.
  • noun A descending slope; a descent.
  • noun A decline or decrease; deterioration.
  • noun A deviation, as from a standard or practice.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A sloping downward; a declination; a descent; a slope; a declivity.
  • noun A sinking or falling into a lower or inferior state; deterioration; decline.
  • noun Refusal; non-acceptance.
  • noun In grammar: The inflection of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives; strictly, the deviation of other forms of such a word from that of its nominative case; in general, the formation of the various cases from the stem, or from the nominative singular as representing it: thus, in English, man, man's, men, men's; in Latin, rex, regis, regi, regem, rege, in the singular, and reges, regum, regibus, in the plural.
  • noun The rehearsing of a word as declined; the act of declining a word, as a noun.
  • noun A class of nouns declined on the same type: as, first or second declension; the five Latin declensions. Abbreviated decl.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The act or the state of declining; declination; descent; slope.
  • noun A falling off towards a worse state; a downward tendency; deterioration; decay
  • noun Act of courteously refusing; act of declining; a declinature; refusal.
  • noun Inflection of nouns, adjectives, etc., according to the grammatical cases.
  • noun The form of the inflection of a word declined by cases
  • noun Rehearsing a word as declined.
  • noun declination of the needle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun grammar : A way of categorizing nouns, pronouns, or adjectives according to the inflections they receive.
  • noun grammar : The act of declining a word; the act of listing the inflections of a noun, pronoun or adjective in order.

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

  • noun a class of nouns or pronouns or adjectives in Indo-European languages having the same (or very similar) inflectional forms
  • noun the inflection of nouns and pronouns and adjectives in Indo-European languages
  • noun process of changing to an inferior state
  • noun a downward slope or bend

Etymologies

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

[Middle English declenson, from Old French declinaison, from Latin dēclīnātiō, dēclīnātiōn-, grammatical declension, declination; see declination.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English declenson, from Middle French declinaison (French: déclinaison), from Latin declinatio (gen. declinationis)

Examples

  • On the other hand the action of the state-religion upon the state, the condition of Al-Islam during the reign of Al – Rashid, its declension from the primitive creed and its relation to Christianity and Christendom, require a somewhat extended notice.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • It is the first declension from the level line of what is right that must be jealously regarded, for the inclined plane is so gentle, that it is easy to fancy we are going straight along.

    Zoe: The History of Two Lives

  • Health, strength, agility, and animal spirits, she may sorrowing feel diminish; but she hears everyone complain of similar failures, and she misses them unmurmuring, though not unlamenting; but of beauty, every declension is marked with something painful to self-love.

    Camilla: or, A Picture of Youth

  • That at least is the doctrine of Gibbon; but perhaps it would not be found altogether able to sustain itself against a closer and philosophic examination of the true elements involved in the idea of declension as applied to political bodies.

    The Caesars

  • But if it is righteousness thus to fuse together our divisive impulses and march with one mind through life, there is plainly one thing more unrighteous than all others, and one declension which is irretrievable and draws on the rest.

    Lay Morals

  • But if it is righteousness thus to fuse together our divisive impulses and march with one mind through life, there is plainly one thing more unrighteous than all others, and one declension which is irretrievable and draws on the rest.

    The Pocket R.L.S., being favourite passages from the works of Stevenson

  • But if it is righteousness thus to fuse together our divisive impulses and march with one mind through life, there is plainly one thing more unrighteous than all others, and one declension which is irretrievable and draws on the rest.

    Lay Morals

  • Such a reevaluation questions the view that the Second Great Awakening fits into a "declension" model in American religious history and forces a new understanding of the connection between this movement and American commercial markets.

    Conservapedia - Recent changes [en]

  • The days when they matter singe hair color; they cool touch, seat cushion declension from beaten haunches craving rest.

    Lawn Clippings

  • Redgrave also evokes beautifully the gradual declension into old age.

    Driving Miss Daisy – review

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • Ooh, this word gives good mouthfeel.

    February 21, 2008

  • It is sad we do not teach declension of nouns and pronouns and adjectives in English. When I learned Latin in high school, declension was something I thought was mysterious and sexy and complex. I never knew of the word until it was introduced to me via Latin.

    August 7, 2008

  • Well, adjectives don't decline in English. Some of them inflect for grade. What would be more useful, however, is teaching some linguistics as applied to English, and using the more general word 'paradigm' rather than making an unnecessary distinction between declension and conjugation.

    August 7, 2008