an increase by natural growth or by gradual external addition; growth in size or extent.
the result of this process.
an added part; addition: The last part of the legend is a later accretion.
the growing together of separate parts into a single whole.
Law. increase of property by gradual natural additions, as of land by alluvion.

1605–15; < Latin accrētiōn- (stem of accrētiō), equivalent to accrēt(us), past participle of accrēscere to grow (ac- ac- + crē- grow + -tus past participle suffix) + -iōn- -ion

accretive, accretionary, adjective
nonaccretion, noun
nonaccretive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
accretion (əˈkriːʃən)
1.  any gradual increase in size, as through growth or external addition
2.  something added, esp extraneously, to cause growth or an increase in size
3.  the growing together of normally separate plant or animal parts
4.  pathol
 a.  abnormal union or growing together of parts; adhesion
 b.  a mass of foreign matter collected in a cavity
5.  law an increase in the share of a beneficiary in an estate, as when a co-beneficiary fails to take his share
6.  astronomy the process in which matter under the influence of gravity is attracted to and increases the mass of a celestial body. The matter usually forms an accretion disc around the accreting object
7.  geology the process in which a continent is enlarged by the tectonic movement and deformation of the earth's crust
[C17: from Latin accretiō increase, from accrēscere. See accrue]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1610s, from L. accretionem (nom. accretio, gen. accretionis) "a growing larger," from pp. stem of accrescere, from ad- "to" + crescere "grow" (see crescent).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

accretion ac·cre·tion (ə-krē'shən)

  1. Growth or increase in size by gradual external addition, fusion, or inclusion.

  2. Increase by addition to the periphery of material of the same nature as that already present, as in the growth of crystals. Also called accrementition.

  3. Foreign material, such as plaque or calculus, collecting on the surface of a tooth or in a cavity.

  4. The growing together or adherence of body parts that are normally separate.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
accretion   (ə-krē'shən)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. Geology The gradual extension of land by natural forces, as in the addition of sand to a beach by ocean currents, or the extension of a floodplain through the deposition of sediments by repeated flooding.

  2. Astronomy The accumulation of additional mass in a celestial object by the drawing together of interstellar gas and surrounding objects by gravity.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The gradual accretion of knowledge is the way to go.
The material settles around the pulsar's middle in a so-called accretion disk.
The observations focused on atoms of iron in what is called an accretion disk.
The accretion of all this too-perfect detail threatens to tip over into mere
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