De*cline" (?), v. i. [imp. & p.
p. Declined (?); p. pr. & vb. n.
Declining.] [OE. declinen to bend down, lower, sink,
decline (a noun), F. décliner to decline, refuse, fr.
L. declinare to turn aside, inflect (a part of speech), avoid;
de- + clinare to incline; akin to E. lean. See
Lean, v. i.] 1. To
bend, or lean downward; to take a downward direction; to bend over or
hang down, as from weakness, weariness, despondency, etc.; to
condescend. "With declining head." Shak.
He . . . would decline even to the lowest of
his family. Lady Hutchinson.
Disdaining to decline,
Slowly he falls, amidst triumphant cries.
The ground at length became broken and declined
rapidly. Sir W. Scott.
2. To tend or draw towards a close, decay, or
extinction; to tend to a less perfect state; to become diminished or
impaired; to fail; to sink; to diminish; to lessen; as, the day
declines; virtue declines; religion declines;
That empire must decline
Whose chief support and sinews are of coin.
And presume to know . . . Shak.
Who thrives, and who declines.
3. To turn or bend aside; to deviate; to
stray; to withdraw; as, a line that declines from
straightness; conduct that declines from sound
Yet do I not decline from thy
testimonies. Ps. cxix. 157.
4. To turn away; to shun; to refuse; -- the
opposite of accept or consent; as, he declined,
De*cline", v. t. 1.
To bend downward; to bring down; to depress; to cause to bend,
In melancholy deep, with head
And now fair Phoebus gan decline in haste Spenser.
His weary wagon to the western vale.
2. To cause to decrease or diminish.
[Obs.] "You have declined his means." Beau. & Fl.
He knoweth his error, but will not seek to
decline it. Burton.
3. To put or turn aside; to turn off or away
from; to refuse to undertake or comply with; reject; to shun; to
avoid; as, to decline an offer; to decline a contest;
he declined any participation with them.
Could I Massinger.
Decline this dreadful hour?
4. (Gram.) To inflect, or rehearse in
order the changes of grammatical form of; as, to decline a
noun or an adjective.
☞ Now restricted to such words as have case inflections; but
formerly it was applied both to declension and conjugation.
After the first declining of a noun and a
5. To run through from first to last; to
repeat like a schoolboy declining a noun. [R.]
De*cline" (?), n. [F.
déclin. See Decline, v. i.]
1. A falling off; a tendency to a worse state;
diminution or decay; deterioration; also, the period when a thing is
tending toward extinction or a less perfect state; as, the
decline of life; the decline of strength; the
decline of virtue and religion.
Their fathers lived in the decline of
2. (Med.) That period of a disorder or
paroxysm when the symptoms begin to abate in violence; as, the
decline of a fever.
3. A gradual sinking and wasting away of the
physical faculties; any wasting disease, esp. pulmonary consumption;
as, to die of a decline. Dunglison.
Syn. -- Decline, Decay, Consumption.
Decline marks the first stage in a downward progress;
decay indicates the second stage, and denotes a tendency to
ultimate destruction; consumption marks a steady decay from an
internal exhaustion of strength. The health may experience a
decline from various causes at any period of life; it is
naturally subject to decay with the advance of old age;
consumption may take place at almost any period of life, from
disease which wears out the constitution. In popular language
decline is often used as synonymous with consumption.
By a gradual decline, states and communities lose their
strength and vigor; by progressive decay, they are stripped of
their honor, stability, and greatness; by a consumption of
their resources and vital energy, they are led rapidly on to a
completion of their existence.