v. /di jen"euh rayt'/; adj., n. /di jen"euhr it/, v., degenerated, degenerating, adj., n.v.i.1. to fall below a normal or desirable level in physical, mental, or moral qualities; deteriorate: The morale of the soldiers degenerated, and they were unable to fight.2. to diminish in quality, esp. from a former state of coherence, balance, integrity, etc.: The debate degenerated into an exchange of insults.3. Pathol. to lose functional activity, as a tissue or organ.4. Evolution. (of a species or any of its traits or structures) to revert to a simple, less highly organized, or less functionally active type, as a parasitic plant that has lost its taproot or the vestigial wings of a flightless bird.v.t.5. to cause degeneration in; bring about a decline, deterioration, or reversion in.adj.6. having fallen below a normal or desirable level, esp. in physical or moral qualities; deteriorated; degraded: a degenerate king.7. having lost, or become impaired with respect to, the qualities proper to the race or kind: a degenerate vine.8. characterized by or associated with degeneracy: degenerate times.9. Math. pertaining to a limiting case of a mathematical system that is more symmetrical or simpler in form than the general case.10. Physics.a. (of modes of vibration of a system) having the same frequency.b. (of quantum states of a system) having equal energy.n.11. a person who has declined, as in morals or character, from a type or standard considered normal.12. a person or thing that reverts to an earlier stage of culture, development, or evolution.13. a sexual deviate.[1485-95; < L degeneratus (ptp. of degenerare to decline from an ancestral standard), equiv. to de DE- + gener-, s. of genus race (see GENUS) + -atus -ATE1; see GENERATE]Syn. 1. worsen, decline, backslide, retrogress.
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