v. de·clined, de·clin·ing, de·clines
1. To express polite refusal: I wanted to invite them but I was afraid they would decline.
a. To slope downward; descend: The roof declines at a steep angle.
b. To bend downward; droop: boughs declining toward the ground.
3. To degrade or lower oneself; stoop: refused to decline to their level of behavior.
4. To deteriorate gradually; fail: His health has been declining for years.
a. To sink, as the setting sun.
b. To draw to a gradual close: We made our way home as the day declined.
1. To refuse politely: I declined their offer of help. See Synonyms at refuse1.
2. To cause to slope or bend downward.
3. Grammar To inflect (a noun, a pronoun, or an adjective) for number and case.
1. The process or result of declining, especially:
a. A gradual deterioration, as in numbers, activity, or quality: "overwhelming evidence that fish stocks ... are in decline" (Jonathan Bocknek).
b. A downward movement or fall, as in price.
c. A deterioration of health: the patient's rapid decline.
2. A downward slope; a declivity: the sharp decline of the dunes to the sea.
[Middle English declinen, from Old French decliner, from Latin dēclīnāre, to turn away, bend downward, change the form of a word : dē-, de- + -clīnāre, to lean, bend; see klei- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus