verb (used without object), degenerated, degenerating.
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.
to diminish in quality, especially from a former state of coherence, balance, integrity, etc.:
The debate degenerated into an exchange of insults.
Pathology. to lose functional activity, as a tissue or organ.
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.
verb (used with object), degenerated, degenerating.
to cause degeneration in; bring about a decline, deterioration, or reversion in.
having fallen below a normal or desirable level, especially in physical or moral qualities; deteriorated; degraded:
a degenerate king.
having lost, or become impaired with respect to, the qualities proper to the race or kind:
a degenerate vine.
characterized by or associated with degeneracy:
Mathematics. pertaining to a limiting case of a mathematical system that is more symmetrical or simpler in form than the general case.
(of modes of vibration of a system) having the same frequency.
(of quantum states of a system) having equal energy.
a person who has declined, as in morals or character, from a type or standard considered normal.
a person or thing that reverts to an earlier stage of culture, development, or evolution.
late 15c., from L. degeneratus, pp. of degenerare "to become unlike one's race or kind, fall from ancestral quality," used of both physical and moral qualities, from phrase de genere, from de + genus (gen. generis) "birth, descent" (see genus). The verb is from 1540s; the noun is 1550s.