the act or process of decomposing.
the state of being decomposed; decay.

1650–60; probably < French décomposition, derivative of décomposer to decompose; see composition Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
decompose (ˌdiːkəmˈpəʊz)
1.  to break down (organic matter) or (of organic matter) to be broken down physically and chemically by bacterial or fungal action; rot
2.  chem to break down or cause to break down into simpler chemical compounds
3.  to break up or separate into constituent parts
4.  (tr) 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

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

1762, noun of action from decompose.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

decomposition de·com·po·si·tion (dē-kŏm'pə-zĭsh'ən)

  1. The act or result of decomposing; disintegration.

  2. Separation into constituents by chemical reaction.

  3. The breakdown or decay of organic materials; lysis.

de·com'po·si'tion·al adj.
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
decomposition   (dē-kŏm'pə-zĭsh'ən)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. The separation of a substance into simpler substances or basic elements. Decomposition can be brought about by exposure to heat, light, or chemical or biological activity.

  2. The process of breaking down organic material, such as dead plant or animal tissue, into smaller molecules that are available for use by the organisms of an ecosystem. Decomposition is carried on by bacteria, fungi, protists, worms, and certain other organisms. See more at detritivore.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Resnik, said the agency believed that some of the bodies could be identified
  despite decomposition.
If you don't, they'll become too woody for fast decomposition.
Amber, fossilized resin from tree sap, protects trapped materials from decay
  and bacterial decomposition.
Compost requires a few basic ingredients and conditions for decomposition to
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