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

  • intransitive verb To express polite refusal.
  • intransitive verb To slope downward; descend.
  • intransitive verb To bend downward; droop.
  • intransitive verb To degrade or lower oneself; stoop.
  • intransitive verb To deteriorate gradually; fail.
  • intransitive verb To sink, as the setting sun.
  • intransitive verb To draw to a gradual close.
  • intransitive verb To refuse politely: synonym: refuse.
  • intransitive verb To cause to slope or bend downward.
  • intransitive verb Grammar To inflect (a noun, a pronoun, or an adjective) for number and case.
  • noun The process or result of declining, especially.
  • noun A gradual deterioration, as in numbers, activity, or quality.
  • noun A downward movement or fall, as in price.
  • noun A deterioration of health.
  • noun A downward slope; a declivity.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In chess, to refuse to take a piece or pawn offered.
  • noun A bending or sloping downward; a slope; declivity; incline.
  • noun A descending; progress downward or toward a close.
  • noun A failing or deterioration; a sinking into an impaired or inferior condition; falling off; loss of strength, character, or value; decay.
  • noun In medicine: That stage of a disease when the characteristic symptoms begin to abate in violence.
  • noun A popular term for any chronic disease in which the strength and plumpness of the body gradually diminish, until the patient dies: as, he is in a decline.
  • noun The time of life when the physical and mental powers are failing. Quain.
  • To cause to bend or slope; bend down; incline; cause to assume an inclined position; depress.
  • To lower; degrade; debase.
  • To decrease; diminish; reduce.
  • To cause to deviate from a straight or right course; turn aside; deflect.
  • To turn aside from; deviate from.
  • To avoid by moving out of the way; shun; avoid in general.
  • To refuse; refuse or withhold consent to do, accept, or enter upon: as, to decline a contest; to decline an offer.
  • In grammar, to inflect, as a noun or an adjective; give the case-forms of a noun or an adjective in their order: as, dominus, domini, domino, dominum, domine.
  • To bend or slant down; assume an inclined position; hang down; slope or trend downward; descend: as, the sun declines toward the west.
  • To deviate from a right line; specifically, to deviate from a line passing through the north and south points.
  • To deviate from a course or an object; turn aside; fall away; wander.
  • To sink to a lower level; sink down; hence, figuratively, to fall into an inferior or impaired condition; lose strength, vigor, character, or value; fall off; deteriorate.
  • To stoop, as to an unworthy object; lower one's self; condescend.
  • To refuse; express refusal: as, he was invited, but declined.
  • To approach or draw toward the close.
  • To incline; tend.
  • To incline morally; be favorably disposed.

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

  • intransitive verb To bend, or lean downward; to take a downward direction; to bend over or hang down, as from weakness, weariness, despondency, etc.; to condescend.
  • intransitive verb To tend or draw towards a close, decay, or extinction; to tend to a less perfect state; to become diminished or impaired; to fail; to sink; to diminish; to lessen
  • intransitive verb To turn or bend aside; to deviate; to stray; to withdraw
  • intransitive verb To turn away; to shun; to refuse; -- the opposite of accept or consent.
  • transitive verb To bend downward; to bring down; to depress; to cause to bend, or fall.
  • transitive verb obsolete To cause to decrease or diminish.
  • transitive verb To put or turn aside; to turn off or away from; to refuse to undertake or comply with; reject; to shun; to avoid
  • transitive verb (Gram.) To inflect, or rehearse in order the changes of grammatical form of.
  • transitive verb rare To run through from first to last; to repeat like a schoolboy declining a noun.


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

[Middle English declinen, from Old French decliner, from Latin dēclīnāre, to turn away, bend downward, change the form of a word : dē-, de- + -clīnāre, to lean, bend; see klei- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English declinen, from Old French decliner, from Latin declinare ("to bend, turn aside, deflect, inflect, decline"), from de ("down") + clīnō ("I bend, I incline"), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱley- (English lean).


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word decline.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.