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American Dictionary of the English Language

Webster's Dictionary 1828

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Degenerate


DEGENERATE, verb intransitive [Latin Grown worse, ignoble, base.]

1. To become worse; to decay in good qualities; to pass from a good to a bad or worse state; to lose or suffer a diminution of valuable qualities, either in the natural or moral world. In the natural world, plants and animals degenerate when they grow to a less size than usual, or lose a part of the valuable qualities which belong to the species. In the moral world, men degenerate when they decline in virtue, or other good qualities. Manners degenerate when they become corrupt. Wit may degenerate into indecency or impiety.

DEGENERATE, adjective

1. Having fallen from a perfect or good state into a less excellent or worse state; having lost something of the good qualities possessed; having declined in natural or moral worth.

The degenerate plant of a strange vine. Jeremiah 2:21.

2. Low; base; mean; corrupt; fallen from primitive or natural excellence; having lost the good qualities of the species. Man is considered a degenerate being. A coward is a man of degenerate spirit.