1. A falling off; a tendency to a worse state; diminution or decay; deterioration; also, the period when a thing is tending toward extinction or a less perfect state; as, the decline of life; the decline of strength; the decline of virtue and religion. "Their fathers lived in the decline of literature." (Swift)

2. <medicine> That period of a disorder or paroxysm when the symptoms begin to abate in violence; as, the decline of a fever.

3. A gradual sinking and wasting away of the physical faculties; any wasting disease, especially. Pulmonary consumption; as, to die of a decline.

Synonyms: Decline, Decay, Consumption.

Decline marks the first stage in a downward progress; decay indicates the second stage, and denotes a tendency to ultimate destruction; consumption marks a steady decay from an internal exhaustion of strength. The health may experience a decline from various causes at any period of life; it is naturally subject to decay with the advance of old age; consumption may take place at almost any period of life, from disease which wears out the constitution. In popular language decline is often used as synonymous with consumption. By a gradual decline, states and communities lose their strength and vigor; by progressive decay, they are stripped of their honor, stability, and greatness; by a consumption of their resources and vital energy, they are led rapidly on to a completion of their existence.

Origin: F. Declin. See Decline.

(01 Mar 1998)

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