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atrophy

verb, noun

Definition: (v.) to weaken or waste away, especially from lack of use; (n.) 1. the weakening, decreasing, or degeneration of a muscle or part of the body; 2. any weakening or degenerative decline

Synonyms: (v.) weaken, degenerate, decline, decay, deteriorate, diminish; (n.) weakening, degeneration

Antonyms: (v.) strengthen, grow; (n.) strengthening, growth

Tips: Atrophy originates from the Latin atrophia, "lack of food," from the Greek trophe, "food" with the "negative" prefix "a." Thus comes the image of atrophying as "wasting away" from lack of food. Also, think of atrophy when muscles shrink from lack of exercise. Atrophy is also related to the noun attrition, which means "a gradual weakening (as a result of continual difficulty or attack.)" For a memory trick, note how atrophy looks and sounds like "a trophy." Now, think about how a trophy is tall and thin. Imagine you ran into an old friend who used to be a tall body builder, but now he is thin, like a trophy. You would say, "I can't believe how much you have atrophied. You now look like a trophy."

Usage Examples:

NASA has done research on how astronauts can prevent their muscles from beginning to atrophy in the weightless environment of space. (weaken, diminish) verb

The couple's love for each other had begun to atrophy, but hard times helped them remember how much they needed one another. (diminish, deteriorate) verb

When I broke my arm a few years ago, my muscles quickly atrophied while I was in a cast. (weakened, deteriorated) verb

This organization is in a state of atrophy; many of our best employees have left or are planning to retire. (decline) noun


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