Meaning of declension in English:


Pronunciation /dɪˈklɛnʃn/

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mass noun
  • 1(in the grammar of Latin, Greek, and certain other languages) the variation of the form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective, by which its grammatical case, number, and gender are identified.

    ‘Gildersleeve and Lodge's Latin Grammar has a discussion of the declension of Greek nouns at pp.32-33.’
    • ‘Czech is a Slavic language with a declension system based on seven cases.’
    conjugation, declension
    1. 1.1count noun The class to which a noun or adjective is assigned according to the manner of this variation.
      ‘this declension involves only two endings, a nominative and an oblique’
      • ‘It was in Latin and not English Language classes that we learnt about the various verb tenses and noun declensions.’
      • ‘The gender of the word alone is ambiguous, occurring in a declension denoting either males or females.’
      • ‘In Latin, if a word is second declension, it will be masculine.’
      • ‘I vaguely remembered that this depends on whether ‘syllabus’ is second declension, in which case the plural would be ‘syllabi’, or fourth declension, in which case it would be ‘syllabus’.’
      • ‘The fifth declension is unlikely because those nouns are all feminine.’
  • 2 archaic A condition of decline or moral deterioration.

    ‘the declension of the new generation’
    • ‘A careful reading of these reports from dozens of faithful missionaries - who preach the gospel of the sovereign grace of God in Jesus Christ - will bear out what we say about the widespread declension in missionary theology and methods.’
    • ‘Peter Milsom gave two very practical papers on spiritual growth and spiritual declension.’
    • ‘The present is thus perceived as that period of declension that is the subject of the jeremiad.’
    • ‘The author is careful not to mock nineteenth century religious sensibilities, nor to denounce commercialization as an example of declension.’
    • ‘Both authors chronicle the rise and declension of rural Illinois communities and directly address the social/market debate that has invigorated the field of rural history.’


Late Middle English declinson, from Old French declinaison, from decliner ‘to decline’. The change in the ending was probably due to association with words such as ascension.