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[dih-jes-chuh n, dahy-] /dɪˈdʒɛs tʃən, daɪ-/
the process in the alimentary canal by which food is broken up physically, as by the action of the teeth, and chemically, as by the action of enzymes, and converted into a substance suitable for absorption and assimilation into the body.
the function or power of digesting food:
My digestion is bad.
the act of digesting or the state of being digested.
Origin of digestion
1350-1400; Middle English digestioun < Anglo-French, Middle French < Latin dīgestiōn- (stem of dīgestiō), equivalent to dīgest(us) (see digest) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
digestional, adjective
nondigestion, noun
redigestion, noun
self-digestion, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for digestion
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Why may turnkeys be said to have extraordinary powers of digestion?

  • His constitution was strong; but, somehow or other, his digestion was not as good as it might be.

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The above is taken from Beaumont's "Experiments on digestion."

    Health, Happiness, and Longevity Louis Philippe McCarty
  • He has the constitution of a rhinoceros, the digestion of an ostrich, and the concentration of an oyster.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • digestion leads to sleep by drawing upon the brain for a portion of its blood.

    Sleep and Its Derangements William A. Hammond
  • She should have taken straight brandy to settle her digestion.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
British Dictionary definitions for digestion


/dɪˈdʒɛstʃən; daɪ-/
the act or process in living organisms of breaking down ingested food material into easily absorbed and assimilated substances by the action of enzymes and other agents related adjective peptic
mental assimilation, esp of ideas
(bacteriol) the decomposition of sewage by the action of bacteria
(chem) the treatment of material with heat, solvents, chemicals, etc, to cause softening or decomposition
Derived Forms
digestional, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Latin digestiō a dissolving, digestion
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 digestion

late 14c., from Old French digestion (13c.), from Latin digestionem (nominative digestio), noun of action from past participle stem of digerere (see digest (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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digestion in Medicine

digestion di·ges·tion (dī-jěs'chən, dĭ-)
The process by which food is converted into substances that can be absorbed and assimilated by the body, especially that accomplished in the alimentary canal by the mechanical and enzymatic breakdown of foods into simpler chemical compounds.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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digestion in Science

  1. The process by which food is broken down into simple chemical compounds that can be absorbed and used as nutrients or eliminated by the body. In most animals, nutrients are obtained from food by the action of digestive enzymes. In humans and other higher vertebrates, digestion takes place mainly in the small intestine. In protists and some invertebrates, digestion occurs by phagocytosis.

  2. The decomposition of organic material, such as sewage, by bacteria.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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digestion in Culture

digestion definition

The breaking down of food, which is made up of complex organic molecules, into smaller molecules that the body can absorb and use for maintenance and growth.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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