Meaning of DECLINE in English


I. de ‧ cline 1 W2 AC /dɪˈklaɪn/ BrE AmE noun [singular, uncountable]

a decrease in the quality, quantity, or importance of something

decline in

There has been a decline in the size of families.

decline of

the decline of manufacturing

rapid/sharp/steep/dramatic decline

a rapid decline in unemployment

steady/gradual/long-term decline

The island’s population initially numbered 180, but there was a gradual decline until only 40 people were left.

the economic decline faced by many cities

in decline/on the decline (=falling)

the widely held belief that educational standards are in decline

fall/go etc into decline (=become less important, successful etc)

The port fell into decline in the 1950s.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ adjectives

▪ sharp/steep (=by a large amount)

The higher prices caused a sharp decline in sales.

▪ rapid (=fast)

We noticed a rapid decline in his health.

▪ dramatic (=extremely fast, and by a large amount)

The last three years have seen a dramatic decline in the number of tigers in the area.

▪ marked (=very noticeable)

Hunting led to a marked decline in bird numbers.

▪ gradual

After 1870, there was a gradual decline of the disease.

▪ steady/progressive (=gradual but continuous)

There has been a steady decline in club membership.

▪ a long-term decline (=happening for a long time)

The long-term decline in the manufacturing industry is still continuing.

▪ economic/industrial etc decline

This area has been severely affected by long-term industrial decline.

■ verbs

▪ cause/lead to a decline

The use of agricultural chemicals has led to a decline in water quality.

▪ go/fall into decline (=become less important, successful etc)

At the beginning of the century the cloth trade was going into decline.

▪ suffer a decline

The firm suffered a sharp decline in its profits.

▪ stop/halt a decline (=stop it from continuing)

These measures are intended to halt the decline in fish populations.

▪ reverse a decline (=make something start to improve again)

The main aim is to reverse the decline of the world’s environment.

▪ see a decline (=used to say that a decline happens at a particular time or in a particular place)

The 20th century saw a steady decline in the rural population.

• • •


▪ decrease used when the number, amount, or level of something becomes less than it used to be:

There has been a significant decrease in the number of deaths from lung cancer.


a 5% decrease in housing prices

▪ reduction used when the price, amount, or level of something is made lower:

There will be further price reductions in the sales.


A small reduction in costs can mean a large increase in profits.

▪ cut used when a government or company reduces the price, amount, or level of something:

a 1% cut in interest rates


tax cuts


It is possible that there will be further job cuts.

▪ drop/fall used when the number, amount, or level of something goes down, especially by a large amount:

The figures showed a sharp fall in industrial output.


There was a dramatic drop in temperature.

▪ decline used when the number, amount, level, or standard of something goes down, especially gradually:

During the 1970s, there was a gradual decline in the birthrate.


a decline in educational standards

II. decline 2 W3 AC BrE AmE verb

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: French ; Origin: décliner , from Latin declinare 'to turn aside, inflect' ]

1 . DECREASE [intransitive] to decrease in quantity or importance:

Spending on information technology has declined.

Car sales have declined by a quarter.

After the war, the city declined in importance.

2 . SAY NO [intransitive and transitive] formal to say no politely when someone invites you somewhere, offers you something, or wants you to do something:

Offered the position of chairman, Smith declined, preferring to keep his current job.

Mary declined a hot drink and went to her room.

decline an offer/invitation etc

Mary declined Jay’s invitation to dinner.

decline to do something

The court declined to review her case.

The minister declined to comment (=refused to speak to people who report the news) about the progress of the peace talks.

3 . BECOME WORSE [intransitive] to become gradually worse in quality SYN deteriorate :

Her health has been declining progressively for several months.

Qualified staff are leaving and standards are declining.

4 . sb’s declining years formal the last years of someone’s life


a) [intransitive] if a noun, ↑ pronoun , or adjective declines, its form changes according to whether it is the ↑ subject , ↑ object etc of a sentence

b) [transitive] if you decline a noun, ↑ pronoun , or adjective, you show the various forms that it can take

—declining adjective :

declining attendance at baseball games

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.