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[dee-kuh m-pohz] /ˌdi kəmˈpoʊz/
verb (used with object), decomposed, decomposing.
to separate or resolve into constituent parts or elements; disintegrate:
The bacteria decomposed the milk into its solid and liquid elements.
verb (used without object), decomposed, decomposing.
to rot; putrefy:
The egg began to decompose after a day in the sun.
1745-55; < French décomposer, equivalent to dé- dis-1 + composer to compose
Related forms
decomposable, adjective
decomposability, noun
undecomposable, adjective
1. distill, fractionate, analyze. 2. See decay. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for decomposing
  • When it hits a gusher, it dines on chemicals found in the decomposing oil.
  • As phytoplankton die, some slowly sink, decomposing along the way and carrying nutrients to the deep ocean.
  • The problem is language, in many cases, is not actually evolving but rather is decomposing.
  • It was only then that the alleged murderer's decomposing body was found on the terrace.
  • Biochemical properties of decomposing cotton and corn stem and root residues.
  • Her decomposing body was prayed over for several days before authorities were notified.
British Dictionary definitions for decomposing


to break down (organic matter) or (of organic matter) to be broken down physically and chemically by bacterial or fungal action; rot
(chem) to break down or cause to break down into simpler chemical compounds
to break up or separate into constituent parts
(transitive) (maths) to express in terms of a number of independent simpler components, as a set as a canonical union of disjoint subsets, or a vector into orthogonal components
Derived Forms
decomposable, adjective
decomposability, noun
decomposition (ˌdiːkɒmpəˈzɪʃən) noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for decomposing



1750s, "to separate into components," from de- "opposite of" + compose. Sense of "putrefy" is first recorded 1777. Related: Decomposed; decomposing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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